Illustration of Galileo at Jupiter

After 4-day cross-country trip, the Galileo spacecraft has arrived at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida to begin preparations for its launch to the planet Jupiter next fall.

The Galileo orbiter, designed and built at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., arrived at Kennedy Space Center late Tuesday, May 16. The unmanned spacecraft will be launched from space shuttle Atlantis in mission STS 34 on October 12.

Galileo's atmospheric probe, which will study the gases surrounding the giant planet, was built at Hughes Aircraft Co. in El Segundo, Calif., and shipped to Kennedy several weeks previously.

When it arrived, the Galileo orbiter was placed in Kennedy's Spacecraft Assembly and Encapsulation Facility 2. From now until late July it will undergo tests and be mated with the atmospheric probe.

The combined spacecraft will then be moved to Kennedy's Vertical Processing Facility, where it will be mated with its Inertial Upper Stage (IUS) booster engine.

In late August, the stacked Galileo and IUS will go to launch pad 39-B. There they will be held in the payload changeout room of the pad's gantry until the arrival of shuttle Atlantis on August 28.

Like the recent launch of Magellan to Venus, Galileo will be taken into Earth orbit and released from the payload bay of the shuttle. Its two-stage IUS will then fire, sending the unmanned craft on six-year cruise to Jupiter.

During its interplanetary flight, the 2-ton Galileo will fly by Venus once and by the Earth twice to pick up gravitational energy to swing it out to its destination. Along the way it will also conduct science observations during flybys of two asteroids, Gaspra and Ida.

Released five months before Jupiter arrival, the 750-pound probe will descend by parachute into Jupiter's atmosphere, relaying data on the chemistry and conditions of the giant planet's gases.

The Galileo orbiter, instrumented to conduct 11 science investigations, will continue to orbit Jupiter for at least 22 months, returning pictures of and other data on the planet's four major moons, thin ring, colorful atmosphere and powerful magnetosphere.

Space shuttle mission STS-34 will be commanded by Donald E. Williams and piloted by Michael J. McCulley. Mission specialists Shannon W. Lucid, Ellen S. Baker and Franklin R. Chang-Diaz will help deploy Galileo and its IUS booster from the shuttle.

JPL manages the Galileo Project for NASA's Office of Space Science and Applications. The Galileo probe is managed by NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. BR># 1242 Note to Editors/Photo Assignment Editors: NASA's Kennedy Space Center expects to schedule Galileo photo opportunities once arrival operations are complete. Contact Kennedy's News Center at (305) 867-2468 for more information.

News Media Contact