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Northrop Grumman Integrating LCROSS Instruments

The LCROSS payload is shown undergoing checkout following its arrival at Northrop Grumman's manufacturing facility in Redondo Beach, Calif. Built by NASA Ames, the payload consists of nine science instruments, weighs only 27.3 pounds (12.4 kilograms) and was designed to provide multiple complementary measurements. Eight of LCROSS' nine sensors are surrounded by a sunshade. The ninth LCROSS sensor views a perpendicular plane during the final impact and is located to the lower right outside the sunshade.
by Staff Writers
Redondo Beach CA (SPX) Feb 29, 2008
Northrop Grumman is integrating the cameras, spectrometers and photometer comprising the nine instrument payload for the NASA's Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) onto the spacecraft. LCROSS will impact the moon to determine the presence of water ice in one of its permanently shadowed craters at the lunar South Pole.

NASA Ames Research Center delivered all nine payload instruments to Northrop Grumman in mid-January, already assembled on a single, 30-by-40 inch spacecraft panel. The first step in integration, attaching electrical harnesses for power, telemetry and thermal control functions, has been completed, and the remaining steps will be completed over the next several weeks.

"Our entire approach to building, testing and integrating LCROSS was designed for speed," said Steve Hixson, vice president of Advanced Concepts for Northrop Grumman's Space Technology sector. "We're using innovative techniques to manage the LCROSS schedule, and this latest milestone is an outstanding example of the transparency between the government and industry teams that will be critical to our success. It's coming together very well, so we're already seeing the payoff in terms of schedule."

LCROSS is a fast track spacecraft development project. The Northrop Grumman-NASA team is utilizing streamlined acquisition and production processes to meet the mission's accelerated development schedule and cost constraints. Northrop Grumman expects to deliver the spacecraft about 26 months after the program start, less than half the time of a traditional spacecraft development program.

LCROSS and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, scheduled to launch at the end of the year aboard an Atlas V rocket, are the first American missions to return to the moon since the Lunar Prospector mission in 1999. LCROSS is the only current mission to the lunar surface. NASA scientists expect the impact plume will be visible from Earth with a medium-size (10-12 inch) amateur telescope.

LCROSS' nine science instruments, some of which were obtained commercially and qualified at NASA Ames, will analyze the plume from the impact for the presence of water ice or water vapor, hydrocarbons and hydrated materials. They consist of five cameras, operating in the visible, near infrared and mid-infrared light regimes; three spectrometers, operating in the ultraviolet, visible and near infrared; and one photometer operating in the visible light regime.

The LCROSS Spacecraft will ship to Florida late this summer for integration aboard the Atlas V launch vehicle. LCROSS will be launched as a secondary payload to NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter from the NASA's Kennedy Space Center. Northrop Grumman is working under a $56 million contract to NASA Ames Research Center in Sunnyvale, Calif.

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