From the Earth to the moon — and beyond
NASA’s rockets obviously did not end with the demise of the space shuttles. Pictured here is the sunrise over Cape Canaveral and the Atlas V rocket, which was about to launch NASA’s Juno Spacecraft. Juno’s mission is to study the origin and evolution of Jupiter. On Aug. 5, 2011, NASA sent it hurdling into space, powered by an Atlas V-551.
But will it fly straight to Jupiter? Aiming a rocket can be complicated. Eric Haddox is the lead flight design engineer in NASA's Launch Services Program at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center. According to Haddox, it’s comparable to skeet shooting. “You've got this object that's going to go flying out into the air and you've got to shoot it,” he writes via NASA. “You have to be able to judge how far away your target is and how fast it's moving, and make sure you reach the same point at the same time.” One thing is certain — as NASA continues to “shoot skeet,” our knowledge of space will continue to grow.