Nearly four centuries ago, Galileo Galilei launched the age of modern astronomy by studying
the planets and stars with a new invention - the telescope. That tool connected us to the
heavens as scientific observers. Humans dreamed of traveling to the planets for a closer look, but
only in the 50 years has that idea become reality.
and 11 and
Voyager 1 and
2 spacecraft scouted
Jupiter in the 1970s, but they couldn't stay and that limited what they could tell scientists back on Earth.
Scientists proposed sending an orbiting spacecraft that could stick around and study Jupiter's environment in
detail. The orbiter also would carry a probe to drop through Jupiter's clouds and collect data. The mission
was named Galileo.
In October 1989, Galileo was launched from the cargo bay of the Space Shuttle Atlantis.
Astronaut Shannon Lucid performed the delicate maneuvers that started the spacecraft on its
journey. The booster rocket that pushed Galileo into interplanetary space was not powerful
enough to send the orbiter directly to Jupiter. But engineers devised a way to borrow enough
energy to get the spacecraft to its destination.
- Launch Date: 10/18/89
- Launch Vehicle: Space Shuttle Atlantis
- Mission: NASA STS-34
- Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center, Pad 39-B
- Booster for Galileo: Inertial Upper Stage
- Shuttle Crew:
- Donald E. Williams, Commander
- Michael J. McCulley, Pilot
- Franklin R. Chang-Diaz, Mission Specialist 1
- Shannon W. Lucid, Mission Specialist 2
- Ellen S. Baker, Mission Specialist 3
Next: The Cruise - The Winding Road to Jupiter