Science: Space Age Grand Tour

Shaky start to a long journey

The U.S. attempted a huge step toward a distant planet and the interstellar space beyond it last week—but not without some unexpected difficulty. At Florida's Kennedy Space Center, an 1,800-pound spacecraft known as Voyager 2 was launched atop a Titan-Centaur rocket and aimed at Jupiter, 579 million miles and nearly two years away. Voyager 2 was hardly aloft, however, before it reported a malfunction in the boom that carries a key package of TV cameras and scientific instruments.

The boom extended after lift-off on schedule, but apparently failed to lock. That complicated the mission and cast an...

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