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NASA to launch spacecraft to Jupiter; 1st robotic probe to outer planets powered by sun
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) ' NASA is on the verge of launching a new solar-powered spacecraft all the way to Jupiter.
Liftoff was scheduled for 11:34 a.m. Friday at Cape Canaveral, Fla. But the countdown held at the four-minute mark as engineers tested the helium system of the unmanned rocket's upper stage.
NASA has just over an hour to launch the robotic explorer, named Juno.
It will take Juno five years to reach Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system. The spacecraft will be powered by three huge solar panels. It will be the farthest any solar-powered craft has ever traveled. Previous Jupiter probes have relied on nuclear energy.
Juno will spend at least one year circling Jupiter's poles.