Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Successful Spacecraft Separation

NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, successfully separated from the Centaur upper stage and Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, spacecraft at 6:16:43 p.m. EDT.

The official transfer of control from the Centaur rocket to LCROSS is expected about 9:30 p.m.

LRO will reach the moon on Tuesday at 5:43 a.m.

LCROSS and the Centaur rocket will stay attached for the next four months. They will then separate and be directed to impact the moon on Oct. 9, UTC.

Mission News

3, 2, 1, Liftoff!
Launch of the Atlas V rocket carrying the LRO and LCROSS spacecraft
NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Spacecraft are on their way to the moon atop the same Atlas V rocket, although they 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 astronauts.

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.

Liftoff occurred at 5:32 p.m. EDT. Mission managers used the last launch opportunity due to storms surrounding the launch site.


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