Launch Archives


    The Swift spacecraft lifted off aboard a Boeing Delta II rocket from pad 17-A at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., at 12:16:00.611 p.m. EST. Swift has successfully begun its mission to study gamma-ray bursts and identify their origins.

    Launch Date: November 20, 2004
    Launch Liftoff: 12:16:00.611 p.m. EST
    Location: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
    Swift Webcasts: From Kennedy Space Center
      Science and Spacecraft Overview
    Date/Time: November 15 at 2:30 p.m. (EST)
    + View Replay

      Launch Operations Overview
    Date/Time: November 16 at 4 p.m. (EST)
    + View Replay

    + Swift Launch Coverage

    For additional information refer to our Launch Pad, Processing and Firing Room pages.

    The Mission
    Swift is an agile spacecraft designed to investigate one of the universe's most elusive phenomena: gamma-ray bursts. Gamma-ray bursts are high energy explosions that occur nearly once a day from random locations across the sky. Scientists suspect the bursts maybe be produced by the birth of black holes or death of stars, but no one knows for sure. In order to find out, scientists need a spacecraft with powerful telescopes and quick reflexes to capture gamma-ray bursts as they flash and leave a lingering afterglow. Swift is precisely such a spacecraft.

    The Rocket
    Swift will be boosted into orbit aboard a Boeing Delta II from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The Delta II is a multistage rocket powered by a single main engine and a variable number of strap-on external motors.