NASA Moon-Impactor Mission Passes Major Review

Feb 02, 2007

NASA's drive to return astronauts to the moon and later probe deeper into space achieved a key milestone recently when agency officials approved critical elements of a moon impact mission scheduled to launch in October 2008. NASA's unmanned Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, known as LCROSS, will strike the moon near its south pole in January 2009. It will search for water and other materials that astronauts could use at a future lunar outpost.

Scott Horowitz, associate administrator of the agency's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, led a confirmation review panel that recently approved the detailed plans, instrument suite, budget and risk factor analysis for the satellite.

NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., manages the mission. The mission is valued at $79 million, excluding launch costs. The mission will help NASA gain a new foothold on the moon and prepare for new journeys to Mars and beyond.

The confirmation review authorized continuation of the lunar impactor project and set its cost and schedule. Another mission milestone, the critical design review, is scheduled for late February. That review will examine the detailed Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite system design. After a successful critical design review, the project team will assemble the spacecraft and its instruments.

"The Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite project represents an efficient way of doing business by being cost capped, schedule constrained and risk tolerant," said Daniel Andrews, project manager at Ames for the lunar impactor mission.

The lunar impactor will share a rocket ride into space with a second satellite, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. After the orbiter separates from the Atlas V launch vehicle for its own mission, the LCROSS will use the spent Centaur upper stage of the rocket as a 4,400-pound lunar impactor, targeting a permanently shadowed crater near the lunar South Pole.

According to scientists, the Centaur's collision with the moon will excavate about 220 tons of material from the lunar surface. The Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite will observe the plume of material with a suite of six instruments to look for water ice and examine lunar soil. The satellite will fly through the plume, also impacting the lunar surface. That second impact will be observed from Earth.

The prime contractor for the satellite is Northrop Grumman Space Technologies of Redondo Beach, Calif.

For information about the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite on the Web, visit: lcross.arc.nasa.gov


For information about NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate on the Web, visit: www.nasa.gov/exploration

Source: NASA

Explore further: Best evidence yet for coronal heating theory detected by NASA sounding rocket

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Iliad founder says T-Mobile offer is 'real'

2 hours ago

French telecom upstart Iliad's founder said Friday that the company's offer for US-based T-Mobile is "real" and that he is open to working with partners on a deal.

Law changed to allow 'unlocking' cellphones

2 hours ago

President Barack Obama signed a bill into law on Friday making it legal once again to unlock a cellphone without permission from a wireless provider, so long as the service contract has expired.

Social network challenges end in tragedy

2 hours ago

Online challenges daring people to set themselves ablaze or douse themselves in ice water are racking up casualties and fueling wonder regarding idiocy in the Internet age.

Microsoft sues Samsung alleging contract breach

2 hours ago

Microsoft on Friday sued Samsung in federal court claiming the South Korean giant had breached a contract over cross-license technology used in the fiercely competitive smartphone market.

Recommended for you

Rosetta measures comet's temperature

9 hours ago

(Phys.org) —ESA's Rosetta spacecraft has made its first temperature measurements of its target comet, finding that it is too hot to be covered in ice and must instead have a dark, dusty crust.

How Rosetta arrives at a comet

11 hours ago

After travelling nearly 6.4 billion kilometres through the Solar System, ESA's Rosetta is closing in on its target. But how does a spacecraft actually arrive at a comet?

Lunar occultation of Saturn

12 hours ago

On the night of Monday August 4, mainland Australia will see Saturn disappear behind the moon. It's the third time this year that the moon and Saturn will perfectly line up, as viewed from our part of the ...

SHERLOC to micro-map Mars minerals and carbon rings

13 hours ago

(Phys.org) —An ultraviolet-light instrument on the robotic arm of NASA's Mars 2020 rover will use two types of ultraviolet-light spectroscopy, plus a versatile camera, to help meet the mission's ambitious ...

User comments : 0