The Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) is headed toward the Moon after launching on a Minataur V rocket last night at 11:27 pm EDT from Pad 0B at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The mission will analyze the lunar atmosphere, conditions near the surface and environmental influences on lunar dust. It has been confirmed that the LADEE spacecraft has separated from the rocket. LADEE should arrive at the moon in 30 days, then it will enter lunar orbit.
According to the LADEE mission operations team at NASA's Ames Research Center in California, during technical checkouts the LADEE spacecraft ordered itself to shut down the reaction wheels used to position and stabilize the spacecraft.
"The LADEE spacecraft is working as it was designed to under these conditions – there's no indication of anything wrong with the reaction wheels or spacecraft," said S. Pete Worden, Ames center director. "The LADEE spacecraft is communicating and is very robust. The mission team has ample time to resolve this issue before the spacecraft reaches lunar orbit. We don't have to do anything in a rush."
Team members are currently analyzing the situation. Normal checkout takes a couple of days, and this anomaly may add a couple more days to the process.
"This is not an unusual event in spacecraft," Worden said. "We plan in the next few days to complete spacecraft checkout."
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