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News > USAF Supports NASA's Dual Lunar Exploratory Missions
USAF Supports NASA's Dual Lunar Exploratory Missions

Posted 6/18/2009   Updated 6/18/2009 Email story   Print story

    


Release Number: 020609

6/18/2009 - CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. -- CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. - The U.S. Air Force supported the successful launch of an Atlas V rocket carrying a pair of NASA lunar exploration spacecraft today at 5:32 p.m. (EDT) from Space Launch Complex 41.
 
NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Spacecraft (LCROSS) will fly to the moon atop the same Atlas V rocket, although they will use vastly different methods to study the lunar environment.
 
Several units across the 45th Space Wing provided vital support, including weather forecasts, media relations, launch operations and safety. The wing also provided a vast network of radar, telemetry, optical and communications instrumentation that helped facilitate a safe launch on the Eastern Range.
 
"We are thrilled to support these lunar exploration missions," said Brig. Gen. Edward L. Bolton Jr., 45th Space Wing commander. "LRO/LCROSS is leading NASA back to the moon, and our launch team is proud to be a part."

LRO is to orbit the moon, turning its suite of instruments towards the moon for thorough studies. The spacecraft also is to look for potential landing sites for astronauts.
 
LCROSS is to guide an empty upper stage on a collision course with a permanently shaded crater in an effort to kick up evidence of water at the moon's poles. LCROSS itself will fly into the plume of dust left by the impact and take measurements of its properties before also colliding with the lunar surface.
 
"The entire Atlas team is honored to be a part of such a historic mission," said Capt. Steve Engler, LRO/LCROSS Mission Lead. "This mission's ground breaking ceremony on the moon will set the precedent for all future moon exploration and secure our page in the history books."
 
The Atlas V family of Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles (EELV) has achieved 100 percent mission success in launches from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
 
This mission marked the 15th flight of an Atlas V rocket from here and the fifth launch this year from Cape Canaveral AFS.

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Contact: Eric Brian, 321-494-1425 (office), 321-508-2072 (mobile) or eric.brian@patrick.af.mil 
 



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