A Boeing [NYSE: BA] Delta II rocket launched a
NASA spacecraft today that will collide with a comet, causing a crater that
will enable scientists to learn more about comets and their role in the
formation of the Universe.

The Deep Impact spacecraft was launched by a Delta II 7925-9.5 launch
vehicle. Liftoff occurred at 1:47:08 p.m. EST from Space Launch Complex
(SLC) 17B, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
The flight lasted approximately 34-minutes, placing Deep Impact into a
trajectory path with the comet Tempel 1.

Deep Impact will release a projectile or “impactor” that will collide with
Tempel 1 in July 2005. The impactor has an autonomous guidance system,
propulsion system and onboard cameras to keep it on course after its release
from the mother ship, which will fly by Tempel 1 to take images of the comet
after impact.

“What a great way to start our year off with a bang,” said Dan Collins, vice
president, Boeing Expendable Launch Systems. “This exciting mission will
reveal more information about how the Universe was formed. Our Delta team
worked very hard to prepare for this important mission. We’re looking
forward to another successful year supporting our NASA customer.”

Deep Impact’s impactor measures one-meter in diameter, 0.8-meters tall and
weighs approximately 370 kg. It will hit Tempel 1, leaving a crater
somewhere between the size of a house and a football stadium, and
approximately two- to 14-stories deep. Post-impact debris, such as dust and
gases, and the interior of the crater will also be observed by the Hubble,
Spitzer and Chandra telescopes as well as by telescopes on Earth. This is
the first time that researchers will be able to study a comet’s interior.

The Delta II 7925-9.5 vehicle that launched Deep Impact used a Rocketdyne
RS-27A main engine, nine Alliant Techsystems solid rocket boosters, an
Aerojet AJ10-118K second-stage engine, a Thiokol Star 48B third-stage motor,
and a nine-and-a-half-foot diameter payload fairing.
The next Delta launch is the NOAA-N mission for NASA aboard a Delta II
rocket planned for March from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is one of
the world’s largest space and defense businesses. Headquartered in St. Louis
, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is a $27 billion business. It provides
network-centric system solutions to its global military, government, and
commercial customers. It is a leading provider of intelligence, surveillance
and reconnaissance systems; the world’s largest military aircraft
manufacturer; the world’s largest satellite manufacturer and a leading
provider of space-based communications; the primary systems integrator for
U.S. missile defense and Department of Homeland Security; NASA’s largest
contractor; and a global leader in launch services.