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Home » How to watch NASA’s asteroid explorer Lucy launch this week

How to watch NASA’s asteroid explorer Lucy launch this week

This week, NASA will launch its new explorer: Lucy, a spacecraft that will travel to asteroids near Jupiter to learn more about the formation of the solar system. Lucy will be launched early in the morning of Saturday, October 16 on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 401 rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Space Station in Florida, and we’ve got the details on how you can watch the launch in direct.

What Lucy will explore

Artist illustration of the Lucy concept.
Artist illustration of the Lucy concept. South West Research Institute

Lucy will travel to the solar system to visit the Trojans, a group of asteroids orbiting Jupiter. These are believed to be remnants of the formation of the outer planets, spanning over 4 billion years.

“During her 12-year main mission, Lucy will explore a record number of asteroids,” writes NASA. “The spacecraft will fly over an asteroid in the main belt of the solar system and seven Trojan asteroids. Lucy’s path will circle Earth three times for gravitational aids, making her the first spacecraft to return to our planet’s vicinity from the Outer Solar System.

To learn more about Lucy’s goals, we spoke to the mission’s principal investigator, Hal Levison, about how she might unravel the mysteries of how the solar system was formed.

How to watch the launch

NASA will live stream Lucy’s launch, along with a variety of pre-launch activities like take-off preparation and expert commentary. You can watch online either using the embedded video at the top of this page or by heading to the NASA website.

Coverage of the launch will begin at 5 a.m. ET (2 a.m. PT) on Saturday, October 16. The launch itself is scheduled for 5:34 a.m. ET (2:34 a.m. PT).

If you want to learn more about the mission, there are two days of briefings and information that will be posted before launch. On Thursday, October 14, there will be a live Lucy Rollout Show at 10 a.m. ET (7 a.m. PT) followed by a science briefing at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) with the researchers who will be working with Lucy’s data, followed by of a technical briefing at 3 p.m. ET (12 p.m. PT) with the engineers who built the spacecraft.

On Friday, October 15, you can hear NASA scientists talk about the mission during a briefing scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET (12:30 p.m. PT).

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