October 18, 1989

  Collage of the Galileo spacecraft

The Galileo spacecraft launches on a six-year journey to Jupiter. The mission is the first of a new generation that will orbit outer planets -- rather than fly by -- so they can be studied in greater detail.

Galileo's flight path takes it by other planets first so that it will gain energy from the gravity of each. Galileo will fly past Venus on February 10, 1990, and then twice past Earth -- once on December 8, 1990, and again on December 8, 1992.

See also: Galileo home page