NASA's Lucy spacecraft is planned to launch for the first time on October 16 at 5:34 a.m. EDT. This is the first space expedition to the Trojan asteroids in Jupiter.
Lucy team members spent approximately 2 months prepping the spacecraft for the launch at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The spacecraft is encased in a secure fairing and affixed to an Atlas V rocket via a fairing.
Lucy, headed by SwRI, will investigate eight asteroids in 12 years with a single spacecraft, setting records along the way to Jupiter's Trojan asteroids. These varied, never-before-visited "fossils" leftover from the solar system's creation will tell a significant amount about the solar system's origins.
Engineers have rehearsed launching the spacecraft from the mission operations centres at Kennedy and Lockheed Martin Space in Littleton, Colorado.
To observe the spacecraft and execute the entire launch countdown procedures, the crew will be brought "to stations" at 1 a.m. A launch opportunity will be available every morning for the following two weeks if the weather or other circumstances prevent it. NASA's Launch Services Program manages the launch from Kennedy.
"Lucy's capacity to fly by so many targets means we will be able to examine why such asteroids seem so different," said SwRI's Cathy Olkin, deputy principal investigator of the mission. "The mission will provide us a unique look into the creation of our solar system, assisting us to comprehend its evolution."
NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency's website will commence live coverage of the launch at 5 a.m. EDT. NASA will have a pre-launch briefing on October 13, followed by scientific and engineering briefings on October 14.
Lucy would be the first spacecraft to investigate Trojans in space. These ancient bodies can help us unravel the solar system's past. The mission is named after a preserved human ancestor (named "Lucy" by her discoverers), whose bones gave unprecedented insight into the development of humans.
On January 4, 2017, NASA announced Lucy and Psyche as Discovery Program missions 13 and 14. The Lucy spacecraft is the star of a US$981.1 million mission. One of the payload's three components is a thermal infrared spectrometer, while the other two are optical and near-infrared imagers.
Arriving in 2027, it will be accompanied by four Trojans. To help the L5 Trojan cloud's binary Trojan 617 Patroclus and its satellite Menoetius in 2033, Lucy will return to Earth in 2031.