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LADEE Set In Lunar Orbit, Regardless of Shutdown

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[ Science]

Regardless of the government shutdown keeping a lot of NASA’s workers at home, the agency was still able to put its LADEE moon probe into lunar orbit.

The Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer, or LADEE, took off from Cape Caneveral, Florida, on September 6, on the back of a small rocket. Incidentally, a frog photobombed coverage of the launch. The craft was placed into a highly elliptical earth orbit. After travelling around earth three times, it was in position to activate the braking rocket, and fell into the orbit of the moon.

With the government shutdown in effect, 97% of NASA’s 18,000 employees have been furloughed. Though, LADEE’s flight controllers were still clocking in, monitoring the tricky maneuver which put the probe into moon orbit, according to deputy project scientist Greg Delory, of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California.

Over the next couple of weeks, LADEE’s orbit will be adjusted, until it ends up 155 miles above the surface, the best vantage for studying gases surrounding the moon, as well as to search for electrically charged dust rising from the lunar surface. Delory adds that the government shutdown is not likely to affect a LADEE laser communication demonstration set for the end of the month.


Last week, NASA reactivated furloughed workers who were on the new Mars orbiter project, set to launch November 18th. Necessary personnel have also been kept on to monitor NASA’s communications satellites and various space probes.


Perhaps some day down the line, a sequel to George Clooney’s “Gravity” will appear on Lifetime, with astronauts being adrift in space because mission control has all been furloughed. NASA’s LADEE page is presently offline due to the shutdown.

Image via Wikimedia Commons.

LADEE Set In Lunar Orbit, Regardless of Shutdown
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