Greg Avery writes NASA and Lockheed’s space system unit worked together to prepare Juno for a flyby on Wednesday afternoon and use Earth’s gravity to propel it toward the other planet.
“Had we not chosen to do the flyby, the mission would have required a bigger launch vehicle, a larger spacecraft and would have been more expensive,” said Tim Gasparrini, Lockheed’s Juno program manager.
NASA expects the slingshot to boost the spacecraft’s speed to 87,000 miles per hour, the Business Journal reports.
The unmanned proble weighs 7,992 pounds and seeks to study gas clouds on Jupiter, according to the report.
Juno was launched in 2011 and is scheduled to reach Jupiter in 2016.