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LADEE Continues To Settle Into Operational Lunar Orbit
by Staff Writers
Moffett Field CA (SPX) Oct 20, 2013

An artist's concept of NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft seen orbiting near the surface of the moon. Image credit: NASA Ames / Dana Berry

During the NASA shutdown, the LADEE mission continued to perform its critical maneuvers and capture into the commissioning orbit around the moon. The trajectory correction maneuver (TCM-1) was completed on Oct. 1, and set the spacecraft to rendezvous with the moon on Oct. 6.

The Neutral mass Spectrometer (NMS) cap ejection on Oct. 3 was successful. The first Lunar Orbit Insertion maneuver (LOI-1) on Oct. 6 was very accurate, and required no course adjustments afterward.

This is impressive performance of the propulsion system, given the size of the LOI-1 burn. This maneuver put the spacecraft in a 24-hour elliptical lunar orbit. The LOI-2 maneuver on Oct. 9 also was very accurate, putting LADEE into a 4-hour elliptic lunar orbit.

The third and final LOI-3 burn occurred on Oct. 12, and put the spacecraft into the 2-hour commissioning orbit (roughly 235 Km x 250 Km). The LADEE spacecraft commissioning activities are now complete, and the instrument commissioning activities have begun. The LDEX and UVS aliveness activities were completed successfully on Oct. 16, with both instrument covers deployed.

These instrument cover deployments were the last remaining planned critical events for the mission. All critical maneuvers and all instrument cover deployments are completed at this point.

The science instrument commissioning and lasercom primary experiment will be conducted through mid-Nov., at which point the spacecraft will start to drop down to the lower lunar science orbit.

NASA's Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley designed, developed, built and tested the spacecraft and will manage the 100-day science mission. Ames controls the spacecraft and executes mission operations.


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