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Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - NASA launches satellite toward Mercury - Aug 3, 2004 - NASA launches satellite toward Mercury - Aug 3, 2004: "NASA launches satellite toward Mercury
Tuesday, August 3, 2004 Posted: 2:23 AM EDT (0623 GMT)
CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (AP) -- NASA launched a messenger to Mercury on Tuesday, the first spacecraft in 30 years to head to the sun's closest planet.
The probe, named Messenger, rocketed away in the in the pre-dawn moonlight on what will be a 5 billion-mile, 61/2-year journey to Mercury. The trip should have started a day earlier, but clouds from Tropical Storm Alex postponed liftoff.
Scientists have been yearning to study Mercury up-close ever since Mariner 10 zoomed by three times in the mid-1970s.
If all goes well, come 2011, Messenger will be the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury."

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