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MESSENGER Launch 5
Wrapped in clouds of smoke,
the Boeing Delta II rocket with its MESSENGER spacecraft on top
climbs free as it lifts off on August 3, 2004, at 2:15:56 a.m.
EDT from Launch Pad 17-B, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. MESSENGER
(MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging)
is on a seven-year, 4.9-billion-mile journey to the planet Mercury.
The spacecraft will fly by Earth, Venus and Mercury several times,
as well as circle the Sun 15 times, to burn off energy before
making its final approach to the inner planet on March 18, 2011.
MESSENGER was built for NASA by the Johns Hopkins University
Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md.
Credit: National Aeronautics
and Space Administration or NASA