A Delta 2 rocket carries the Deep Impact spacecraft away from the Earth for its fateful rendezvous in July, 2005, with Comet Tempel 1. The Deep Impact spacecraft will release an 800-pound copper impactor that will slam into the comet at high speed to release a cloud of debris from the comet that can be studied in detail by the instruments on the spacecraft and by Earthbound observatories. Launch occurred on time at 1:47:08 p.m. on 12 January 2005 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Pictures show the liftoff along with a series of images detailing the rocket shedding six of its solid rocket boosters along with a larger image showing them descending toward the Atlantic Ocean.
4 July 2005 UPDATE: from NASA press RELEASE: 2005-109
After 172 days and 431 million kilometers (268 million miles) of deep space stalking, Deep Impact successfully reached out and touched comet Tempel 1. The collision between the coffee table-sized impactor and city-sized comet occurred at 1:52 a.m. EDT...."What a way to kick off America's Independence Day," said Deep Impact Project Manager Rick Grammier of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "The challenges of this mission and teamwork that went into making it a success, should make all of us very proud." ...."The image clearly shows a spectacular impact," said Deep Impact principal investigator Dr. Michael A'Hearn of the University of Maryland, College Park....

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