Moon-bound LADEE Orbiter Gets Its Final Instrument

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The third and final science instrument that will fly on NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) orbiter has been installed by engineers at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif., the agency announced Oct. 25.

Slated to launch atop an Orbital Sciences Corp.-provided Minotaur 5 rocket in the second half of 2013 from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, LADEE is a robotic mission to orbit the Moon to gather detailed information about the lunar atmosphere, conditions near the surface and environmental influences on lunar dust.

“The installation of the final instrument to LADEE’s flight structure in the clean room at Ames is an important step toward completing the spacecraft building and testing,” said NASA’s LADEE project manager, Butler Hine.

In addition to the Ultraviolet and Visible Light Spectrometer, the Neutral Mass Spectrometer and the Lunar Dust Experiment, LADEE also will fly a technology demonstration that will enable the orbiter to use lasers instead of radio waves to achieve broadband speeds to communicate with Earth.

With integration complete, the LADEE spacecraft enters its environmental test phase where it will undergo tests simulating the conditions it will face during launch and in space.

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