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Alabama-built rocket to deliver NASA’s Lucy spacecraft into orbit

The Alabama-built Atlas V 401 rocket will deliver NASA’s next mission, the Lucy spacecraft, to a hyperbolic orbit next week.

The launch vehicle was built at United Launch Alliance’s (ULA’s) 1.6 million square foot facility in Decatur. Lift off is scheduled for Saturday, October 16 at 5:34 a.m. EDT at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

NASA’s Lucy mission is the first of its kind. The spacecraft will explore a diverse population of small bodies known as the Jupiter Trojan asteroids and is expected to provide revolutionary insights into the formation of the Solar System.

Over its 12-year primary mission, Lucy will explore a record-breaking number of asteroids, flying by one main belt asteroid and seven Trojan asteroids.

The Lucy mission is named after the fossilized skeleton of an early hominin (pre-human ancestor) that was found in Ethiopia in 1974 and named “Lucy” by the team of paleontologists who discovered it. And just as the Lucy fossil provided unique insights into humanity’s evolution, the Lucy mission promises to revolutionize our knowledge of planetary origins and the formation of the Solar System.

Live webcast of the launch will begin prior to the October 16 early morning launch. Tune in here as well as see live updates of the mission.