Loral To Supply Propulsion System for Lunar Probe

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PARIS — Space Systems/Loral will provide the propulsion system for NASA’s lunar dust- and atmosphere-monitoring satellite, scheduled for launch in 2012, under a contract announced Jan. 6 by Palo Alto, Calif.-based Loral.

The 130-kilogram Lunar Atmosphere Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) satellite will measure the Moon’s atmosphere and atmospheric dust to determine how they might affect future lunar exploration and Moon-based astronomy missions.

The propulsion system, a modified version of the hardware Loral uses for its commercial telecommunications satellites, will be integrated by NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., onto the NASA Modular Common Spacecraft Bus, which NASA intends as a low-cost platform whose design is applicable to numerous missions.

NASA has estimated that LADEE mission costs, including the satellite’s construction, launch aboard a Minotaur rocket and at least eight months of operations — five months to reach its lunar orbit and three months of science — will be about $100 million.