(Can’t see the video below? Click here.)
Today, at 12:25 pm EDT, an Atlas V 551 rocket took off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Base with the Juno spacecraft aboard, headed for the planet Jupiter. And I was there, along with 149 other “space tweeps”, watching from the press site at Kennedy Space Center. It was awesome, and here’s the video!
I tried to capture not only the launch but also the excitement of all those watching, as that’s definitely a big part of the experience.
Of course there was a little drama – what launch would be complete with it, after all? 🙂 Juno was supposed to launch at 11:39 am, but it got delayed a few minutes due to some computer issues in the launch center. Then it got delayed a bit more due to some “anomalies”, and then it got delayed again because there was a boat spotted within the restricted area which had to be chased out with a helicopter! With only a 69 minute launch window, it was getting close with all these delays… but eventually all was “go” and the Atlas rocket lifted off into clear skies, rising straight before arcing away from us and then fading off into the atmosphere with an echoing roar.
It was fabulous. Again, thanks to NASA for another great Tweetup event. I can’t believe I’ve seen two launches within the space of a month.
Next stop: Jupiter 2016!
“Today, with the launch of the Juno spacecraft, NASA began a journey to yet another new frontier. The future of exploration includes cutting-edge science like this to help us better understand our solar system and an ever-increasing array of challenging destinations.”
– NASA Administrator Charles Bolden
Juno will cover the distance from Earth to the moon (about 250,000 miles or 402,336 kilometers) in less than one day’s time. It will take another five years and 1,740 million miles (2,800 million kilometers) to complete the journey to Jupiter. The spacecraft will orbit the planet’s poles 33 times and use its collection of eight science instruments to probe beneath the gas giant’s obscuring cloud cover to learn more about its origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere, and look for a potential solid planetary core.
Read more about Juno here.