Space Shuttle Mission STS-93 successfully launched at 11:31am CDT Friday July 23. At 6:47am CDT, the STS-93 crew successfully deployed the massive Chandra X-Ray Observatory from Columbia's payload bay. The attached Boeing IUS booster fired it's first and second stages at 7:47am and 7:51am, respecitvely, propelling the spacecraft into the expected transfer orbit. At 9:50am the IUS separated and the solar arrays deployed into the configuration you see above, generating 2 KW of power for the spacecraft. Over the next several days Chandra's integral propulsion system nudged the observatory into its operating orbit, extending from 6,800 miles to 87,000 miles as it circles Earth every 64 hours, 18 minutes.
The Chandra X-ray Observatory will increase our knowledge about x-ray sources found throughout the Universe by imaging them in resolutions 8 times greater and see objects 20 times fainter than previous instruments. It is on a 5 year mission to better understand the nature of these high energy sources and has already returned many glorious and intriguing images.