From the Captain’s log USS Discovery, Fri Aug 10th 2012 13:07:09 GMT

Today’s the day.  Launch day. Years of work and planing come down to a moment about an hour and thirty one minutes from now when we’ll fire the main engines to escape Earth orbit and send ourselves into an orbit that will bring us to Jupiter in September of 2014.

We started out in LEO (Low Earth Orbit) 200 kilometers high where Discovery was built.  Two days ago we executed a maneuver to change the plane of our orbit to align with Jupiter.  This had the side effect of changing our orbit to an elliptical one 430 kilometers high at the low point and 727 kilometers at the high point.

Normally there would be an additional burn to circularize the orbit but in our case its not necessary because we’re leaving orbit today.

Twelve hours ago our fuel tanks were topped off by a tanker ship to replace the fuel used in the plane alignment burn.  This is important so that we can start out with 100% reserves.  It’s a long trip and there are no gas stations out there.

The Relative Inclination is 0.02 degrees. Ordinarily while this figure is important it’s not really a very big deal in LEO operations or even a trip to the moon.  It means a lot more on long trips like this because a small difference like that on this end can mean a huge difference on the other end of such a long trip.  We’ll have to address it in our first mid-course-correction burn a few months from now.

Our projected arrival in Jupiter orbit is on Sept 20, 2014 at 13:12:17 GMT with the projected closest approach at 194,300 kilometers with an orbit inclination of 109.2 degrees.  Of course, these figures are subject to change as we get closer and make mid course corrections.

Sixty seconds before we reach the lowest point in our orbit we’ll do a main engine burn to increase our velocity by 6.68 kilometers per second for earth escape / Jupiter injection.

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