LADEE has officially achieved orbit around the moon. NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer probe blasted off base on September 6 from Virginia, and after a month long journey aboard a Minotaur 5 rocket has finally broken free of the rocket and fired up its own engines. And the government shutdown made things a little dicey for LADEE too. With 97% of NASA players sidelined, they’re short on hands, but fortunately one of LADEE’s flight controllers was still working and monitored a do-or-die maneuver designed to lower the spacecraft’s orbit to put it in a near-circular path over the moon’s equator. Later in the month LADEE will be demonstrating a new communications system that will allow for the greatest speed of data transmission between crews on the Earth and the spacecraft. LADEE’s mission also includes studying the lunar atmosphere and dust environment just above the lunar surface.
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