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Ulysses was launched on 6 October 1990 at 11:47:15 UT by the Space Shuttle Discovery (OV-103) on mission STS-41 from the Kennedy Space Center.

Launch of Ulysses on board the Space Shuttle Discovery.
Credit NASA

The spacecraft was mounted on top of two propulsion modules, the Inertial Upper Stage (IUS) and the Payload Assisted Module (PAM).  The tower-like space vehicle was released into orbit from the Discovery cargo bay and aimed towards Jupiter.  First the two-stage IUS was fired, followed by the PAM, accelerating Ulysses to the greatest injection velocity ever achieved by a man-made object.  The spacecraft velocity relative to the Sun was more than 41 kms-1.

The Ulysses-IUS-PAM composite before and after deployment.
Credit NASA

At the end of its injection into interplanetary orbit, the Ulysses Spacecraft separated from the PAM and started transmitting data to the ground.  This data was eagerly received by Mission Control after the long silence imposed by the injection manoeuvre. Ulysses was in perfect condition, heralding the start of a successful mission.

Last Update: 1 September 2019
27-May-2024 14:11 UT

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