Lucy will explore the Jupiter Trojan asteroids – thought to be “fossils of planet formation.” Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
Following all pandemic protocols, Lucy team members have spent the past eight weeks at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, preparing the spacecraft for flight. Engineers have tested the spacecraft’s mechanical, electrical, and thermal systems and practiced executing the launch sequence from the mission operations centers at Kennedy and Lockheed Martin Space in Littleton, Colorado. In early August, engineers installed the spacecraft’s high-gain antenna, its second most prominent feature after the expansive solar arrays, which will allow the spacecraft to communicate with Earth.
The United Launch Alliance (ULA) Centaur stage for NASA’s Lucy mission is lifted by crane into the Vertical Integration Facility near Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021. The Lucy spacecraft is scheduled to launch no earlier than Saturday, Oct. 16, on a ULA Atlas V 401 rocket from Pad 41. NASA’s Launch Services Program based at Kennedy Space Center is managing the launch. Over its 12-year primary mission, Lucy will explore a record-breaking number of asteroids, flying by one asteroid in the solar system’s main belt and seven Trojan asteroids. Additionally, Lucy’s path will circle back to Earth three times for gravity assists, making it the first spacecraft ever to return to the vicinity of Earth from the outer solar system. Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett