LADEE Lights Up the East Coast
September 10, 2013
NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) mission caused a sensation in the eastern United States on its way to the Moon. Launched from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Virginia, LADEE’s launch on Friday, September 6, at 11:27 p.m. EDT was visible from Virginia to Massachusetts, and the fireball was captured by photographers and videographers in numerous locations. Crowds gathered in Times Square in New York and on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington to watch.
LADEE is a robotic mission that will orbit the Moon to gather detailed information about the lunar atmosphere, conditions near the surface, and environmental influences on lunar dust. A thorough understanding of these characteristics will address long-standing unknowns, and help scientists understand other planetary bodies as well.
The LADEE spacecraft’s modular common spacecraft bus, or body, is an innovative way of transitioning away from custom designs and toward multiuse designs and assembly-line production, which could drastically reduce the cost of spacecraft development, just as the Ford Model T did for automobiles. NASA’s Ames Research Center designed, developed, built, and tested the spacecraft.
During technical checkouts conducted after launch, the LADEE spacecraft commanded itself to shut down the reaction wheels used to position and stabilize the spacecraft. According to the LADEE mission operations team at NASA’s Ames Research Center, this was determined to be the result of fault protection limits put in place prior to launch to safeguard the reaction wheels. The limits that caused the powering off of the wheels soon after activation were disabled, and reaction wheel fault protection was selectively reenabled. The reactions wheels have been successfully brought back on line and the spacecraft has acquired its safe-mode attitude profile.
The launch turned the hashtag #NASA into the top-trending topic on Twitter in the U.S. late Friday. The launch coverage on NASA TV went out in 66,000 webcast streams. For the first time that the NASA.gov team is aware of, the majority of peak traffic to the site for a live event came from mobile devices instead of desktop computers.
For more information, visitLADEE: Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer
Last updated September 10, 2013