Thursday, June 18, 2009

LRO/LCROSS Count Continues (For Now)

The second ETR launch attempt in two days is at T-1 hour, 30 minutes and counting. Tanking has commenced in the Atlas-Centaur launch vehicle. Unfortunately this is Florida in the summer, and thunderstorms threaten to delay the count. Atlas cannot launch if there is lightning within 10 miles of the pad, which is at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

This vehicle is a moon launch. LRO is the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, aimed at scouting sites for future manned landings. LCROSS stands for Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, a specific mission which involves hitting the moon with the Centaur vehicle.

The Guam and Diego Garcia tracking stations have been activated. They will help with spacecraft comms once the vehicle is above the Clarke belt and its geosynchronous NASA Tracking and Data Relay Satellite network.