The Space Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF) finally gets off the ground aboard a Delta 2 rocket at 1:35 a.m. on 25 August 2003 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. From the NASA press release: “The Space Infrared Telescope Facility marks the finale of NASA's Great Observatories Program, which includes the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory. Its unprecedented infrared sensitivity will allow astronomers to study the most distant, coldest, and most dust-obscured objects and processes in the universe....The mission is a cornerstone of NASA's Origins Program, which seeks to answer the questions, ‘Where did we come from? Are we alone?’” On a side note, this marks the 300th launch of a Delta rocket from its early days in the 1960’s. UPDATE: 18 December 2003 SIRTF is renamed the Spitzer Space Telescope to honor Dr. Lyman Spitzer, Jr., and his pioneering work to place telescopes in space.
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