Launch Updates - Analytical Graphics, Inc.

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New Launch: 2011 August 5, 0825 UTC
Site: Air Force Eastern Test Range, Florida, USA
Launcher: Atlas V
International Designator(s): 2011-040A
SSC Name Owner
37773 JUNO US

"A powerful United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket roared to life Friday and launched NASA's solar-powered Juno space probe on a five-year voyage to Jupiter, the first step in a $1.1 billion mission to look for clues about the origins of the solar system in the hidden heart of its largest planet."

"The towering 197-foot [60.0-m]-tall Atlas 5, equipped with five solid-fuel strap-on boosters for extra power, ignited with a ground-shaking roar at 12:25 p.m. EDT (GMT-4), generating 2.5 million pounds [11 million newtons] of thrust and instantly pushing the spacecraft away from launch complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. It was only the second launch of a five strap-on Atlas 5, the most powerful version offered by United Launch Alliance.

"Liftoff was delayed 51 minutes to resolve two technical issues and to make sure the launch danger zone was clear.

"Climbing away atop a brilliant plume of fiery exhaust, the rocket accelerated through the sound barrier 34 seconds after liftoff, arcing away to the East and putting on a spectacular lunchtime show for tourists and area residents. The strap-on boosters burned out and peeled off about a minute later and the first stage shut down and fell away as planned four-and-a-half minutes after launch.

"The rocket's hydrogen-fueled Centaur upper stage then carried out a six-minute burn to boost the spacecraft into a temporary parking orbit. A second nine-minute Centaur firing 31 minutes later accelerated Juno to 25,000 mph [40,000 kph], or 7 miles [11 km] per second—interplanetary escape velocity—and three minutes later, the 4-ton spacecraft separated from the Centaur to fly on its own.

"Juno's three solar panels then unfolded and initial checks showed the spacecraft came through launch in good shape and pointed in the right direction."

"The Atlas 5 was not powerful enough to fling the spacecraft directly to its target. Instead, Juno will fly out past the orbit of Mars and then use on-board propulsion in September 2012 to drop back into the inner solar system for a velocity-boosting Earth flyby in October 2013. That will give Juno the extra push it needs to reach Jupiter on July 4, 2016.

"The primary goals of the mission are to use the solar system's largest, and presumably oldest, planet to answer fundamental questions about the evolution of the early solar system and the processes at work in the hidden hearts of gas giants like Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and scores of others discovered around distant suns."

Source: Spaceflight Now, "Juno spacecraft leaves Earth for its journey to Jupiter"

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© 2011 Analytical Graphics, Inc.  |   220 Valley Creek Blvd. Exton, PA 19341

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