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The rocket scamper for NASA’s mettlesome Lucy asteroid mission rolls out to open pad

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket rolled out to the launch pad on Oct. 14, 2021, with NASA's Lucy mission to the Trojan asteroids at its tip.

A United Open Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket rolled out to the open pad on Oct. 14, 2021, with NASA’s Lucy mission to the Trojan asteroids at its tip.
(Image credit score: NASA/Invoice Ingalls)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA’s most modern asteroid probe, named Lucy, rolled out of to the open pad this day (Oct. 14) ahead of its deliberate Saturday morning liftoff.

Appropriate after 10: 30 a.m. EDT (1430 GMT), the Atlas V rocket constructed by the United Open Alliance (ULA)  started its 1,800-foot (550 meters) lunge from its vertical integration facility, where it changed into stacked, to the open pad at Speak Open Complex 41. The rollout took roughly an hour, and left the 188-foot-immense (57.3 m) rocket perched atop its pad till open day. Built by Lockheed Martin, the 3,300-pound (1,500 kilograms) Lucy spacecraft is made up our minds for open on Saturday (Oct. 16), which is the first opportunity in a deliberate 23-day open duration that might perhaps kick off the spacecraft’s 12-12 months scurry thru the solar system. 

Lucy will cruise by a total of eight assorted asteroids (seven Trojans, which might perhaps well be positioned ahead of and within the help of Jupiter in its orbit, and one most essential belt) in verbalize to help scientists greater know the manner the solar system evolved. Researchers imagine that the Trojans are perfectly preserved cosmic time capsules and hope that studying them might perhaps perhaps per chance perhaps shed extra light on how the big planets fashioned. 

Related: NASA’s fearless Lucy asteroid mission is willing to open

On open day, Lucy can bear a 75-minute open window that opens at 5: 34 a.m. EDT (0934 GMT). This can scamper to residence atop one in every of ULA’s most identical old Atlas V rockets, the 401, which depends on a single-engine Centaur upper stage and does no longer use stable rocket boosters. 

Lucy’s rocket changed into firstly supposed to ferry Boeing’s Starliner crew tablet on an uncrewed take a look at flight to the Global Speak Space, nonetheless after teams discovered a valve danger within the tablet’s propulsion system, teams had been compelled to send the craft help to the factory to troubleshoot the danger; that flight is now anticipated to open in 2022

So the rocket changed into reassigned to Lucy. In verbalize to give a resolve to that mission, teams at ULA needed to desire away the rocket’s dual-engine Centaur upper stage in addition to to the strap-on stable rocket boosters that had been designed to propel the Starliner tablet into residence. A assorted Centaur upper stage with a single RL10 engine changed into put in on the rocket’s first stage ahead of the spacecraft’s integration.

“It changed into unhappy that OFT-2 had its malfunctioning valve concerns diagram gradual within the sport,” Omar Baez, open director for Lucy at NASA’s Open Companies Program at Kennedy Speak Heart acknowledged throughout a prelaunch news conference on Sept. 28. “And fortuitously, we had been in a position to desire lemons and carry out lemonade out of it.”

This mission will designate the 89th open of an Atlas V rocket and the 100th mission to cruise from ULA’s pad (SLC-41) at Cape Canaveral Speak Force Space. Currently, climate officers at the 45th Speak Delta predict a 90% probability of favorable circumstances for open, with essentially the most attention-grabbing trigger for enviornment being the aptitude for cumulus clouds. 

Put together Amy Thompson on Twitter @astrogingersnap. Put together us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Fb.

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