En Route to Moon!
June 19, 2009 -
Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and LCROSS are bound for the moon after a
flawless liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida aboard an Atlas V rocket.
LRO successfully separated from LCROSS and the Centaur upper stage.
Liftoff occurred on June 18 at 5:32 p.m. EDT. Mission managers used the last launch
opportunity due to storms surrounding the launch site. LRO will reach the moon on
Tuesday at 5:43 a.m.
LRO and LCROSS will use vastly different methods to study the lunar environment. LRO
will go into orbit around the moon, turning its suite of instruments towards the moon for
thorough studies. The spacecraft also will be looking for potential landing sites for
LCROSS, on the other hand, will guide an empty upper stage on a collision course with a
permanently shaded crater in an effort to kick up evidence of water at the moon's poles.
LCROSS itself will also impact the lunar surface during its course of study.
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The United States and its partners have begun a program to extend human
presence in the solar system, beginning with a return to the Moon. The return to the
Moon will enable the pursuit of scientific activities that address our fundamental
questions about the history of Earth, the solar system and the universe - and about our
place in them. It will allow us to test technologies, systems, flight operations and
exploration techniques to reduce the risk and increase the productivity of future missions
to Mars and beyond. It will also expand Earth's economic sphere to conduct lunar
activities with benefits to life on the home planet.
The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) is the first step in this endeavor, an
unmanned mission to create the comprehensive atlas of the Moon's features and
resources necessary to design and build a lunar outpost. LRO follows in the footsteps of
the predecessors to the Apollo missions - missions designed in part to search for the
best possible landing sites (such as the Ranger, Lunar Orbiter and Surveyor missions).
However, building a lunar outpost implies extended periods on the lunar surface and so
the goals of LRO go beyond the requirements of these previous missions. LRO focuses
on the selection of safe landing sites, identification of lunar resources, and the study of
how the lunar radiation environment will affect humans.
NASA launches unmanned moon shot, first in decade
By MARCIA DUNN
20th June 2009
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA launched its first moon shot in a decade Thursday
(18th), sending up a pair of unmanned science probes that will help determine where
astronauts could land and set up camp in years to come.
The liftoff occurred just one month and two days shy of the 40th anniversary of the first
lunar footprints. The mission is a first step in NASA's effort to return humans to the moon
Scientists cheered as the Atlas V rocket carrying the two spacecraft blasted off in late
afternoon, ducking through clouds and providing an exhilarating start to the $583 million
"It was amazing," said John Keller, a deputy project scientist.
The two spacecraft should reach the moon in four to five days — or by early next week.
One will enter into an orbit around the moon for a mapping mission. The other will swing
past the moon and go into an elongated orbit around Earth that will put it on course to
crash into a crater at the moon's south pole in October.
NASA expects the dramatic moon-impacting part of the mission to be "a smashing
success." It's a quest to determine whether frozen water is buried in one of the
permanently shadowed craters. Water would be a tremendous resource for pioneering
"We're going to be doing some lunar prospecting, if you will, excavation style," said
project manager Dan Andrews.
It's an unusual two-for-one moon shot.
The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter will provide a high-precision, three-dimensional map
of the lunar surface. It will circle the lunar poles and, via its seven science instruments,
provide a new atlas of the moon as well as a guidebook for future explorers.
When it comes time to launch astronauts to the moon, NASA wants to avoid putting them
down on an uneven surface, near boulders or in a crater.
"The Apollo program accepted risk and was able to have safe landings," said Richard
Vondrak, project scientist for the orbiter. "But we want to return to the moon, make
repeated landings in some areas, and be able to go there with a higher degree of safety."
The second probe, called the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, will be
aiming for a spectacular smashup that should be visible from the United States.
"How do you get something that's been in the dark for maybe a billion or 2 billion years
out to study it?" said Anthony Colaprete, the principal investigator.
Answer: Impact the bottom of the shadowed crater with the satellite's spent upper-stage
Centaur rocket, more than 5,000 pounds of dead weight careening in at 5,600 mph.
LCROSS, pronounced L-Cross, will drop the Centaur into the targeted crater. The impact
will send a plume of ejected material up into the sunlight, vaporizing any ice and exposing
any traces of water. Previous spacecraft have detected hydrogen in these craters, which
could be evidence of frozen water.
The plume of ejected material — more than 350 tons of soil and rock — should rise as
high as six miles.
The trailing LCROSS will fly through the plume, take measurements, send the data to
Earth, then crash into the surface four minutes after the Centaur, creating a second
plume of debris.
The impacts and plumes should be visible to observers in the United States, west of the
Mississippi River, using 10- to 12-inch telescopes. The Hubble Space Telescope will
monitor the event, as well as the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, still circling the moon.
In a novel touch, NASA has a song to go with the impact mission, "Water on the Moon,"
written and performed by deputy project manager John Marmie, a song-writing engineer
who once considered a music career in Nashville, Tenn. The rock 'n' roll tune begins with
a short countdown and the sound of a launching rocket.
The moon shot — NASA's first since the 1998 launch of Lunar Prospector — should have
gotten under way Wednesday. But the space agency wanted to give shuttle Endeavour
one last crack at taking off on a space station mission; a recurring hydrogen gas leak
halted the countdown.
On the Net:
Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
I have been highly honored to have spent two weekend's with Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell.
Seen here where we shared the stage at the Friends of The Institute of Noetic Sciences, in New
York - April 12, 2009.
Copyright: Chuck Walker - 2009
Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and
LCROSS liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air
Force Station in Florida aboard an Atlas
Buzz Alrdin about to take that first human step on the
moon, 20th June 1969
Its been a NASA eight weeks for me.
I have the pleasure of knowing Ed Belbruno through a mutual friend. He and I spent time together
recently with Edgar Mitchell in New York. Ed Belbruno was employed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory
from 1985 to 1990 as an orbital analyst on such missions as Galileo, Magellan, Cassini, Ulysses, Mars
Observer, and others. During that time, he laid the foundations for the first systematic application of
chaos theory to space flight originally called fuzzy boundary theory, which allows for the construction of
very low energy paths for spacecraft. In 1991 Belbruno applied his ideas for low-energy transfer orbits
to the Japanese spacecraft Hiten, finding a path to the Moon for the spacecraft even though it was very
low on fuel.
Ed Belbruno JPL Orbital Analyst and
author of Fly me to the Moon.
Ed is also a talented artist. This piece is
called Alien Monuments. See his website
Coinciding with these recent weeks of NASA exchanges is the sad the loss of my long time friend,
fellow author and researcher, Pat Delgado. He and I were again doing some research together a few
weeks ago until his health suddenly deteriorated.
Pat worked for some years at the Deep Space Tracking Station, near Woomera, Australia where he
tracked spacecraft for NASA to the Moon, Mars and Venus.
In the interest of conserving bandwidth - The original page has been shortened..
Pat Delgado in the control facility at the
deep space tracking station, tracking the
Mariner space craft.