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Galileo Shifts Course on Way to Jupiter Orbit

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From Associated Press

The Galileo spacecraft has kicked itself onto a new path that puts it right on target for an orbit around Jupiter while a smaller companion dives into the planet’s atmosphere.

Galileo blasted its main rocket engine for about five minutes about midnight Wednesday to put itself on its final course.

“The main maneuver was flawless,” William O’Neil, manager of the $1.6-billion Galileo project, said during a news conference at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Canada Flintridge. “It was . . . easily the most exciting thing we’ve probably done certainly in many years.”

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Galileo was hauled into space in October, 1989, aboard the space shuttle Atlantis and sent on a looping journey through the solar system for its rendezvous with Jupiter. On Thursday, it was 46 million miles from Jupiter and 428 million miles from Earth.

Galileo earlier this month deployed an atmospheric probe that will study the planet’s atmosphere.

The probe is to fall through Jupiter’s atmosphere Dec. 7 to radio back data.

On the same day, Galileo is to fire its rocket again to slow down and ease into orbit around the planet.

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