Nine years ago this week, Chandra was launched aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia (sadly lost in the tragedy of 2003). While the satellite has performed excellently since it was deployed on July 23, 1999, there was a little drama in getting it going. You can read about some of the angst-inducing moments in the days leading up to launch in our Chandra Chronicles from that time.
Thankfully, the astronauts brought their video camera with them so we are all able to experience the deployment of the spacecraft from the cargo bay. As you probably know, Chandra is now happily in a highly elliptical orbit that takes it as far as one-third of the distance to the Moon, but it took several firings from its booster rockets to get it there. Because the spacecraft is out of the Earth's radiation belt a majority of the time, this unusual orbit helps the staff at the Chandra X-ray Center maximize the amount of observing time for the telescope.
Congratulations to everyone who put in all of their hard work before, during and after launch into making Chandra such a success.
-Megan Watzke, CXC
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