There is news on the LADEE mission. I got a kick out of the SpaceRef entry, made it sound like a secret. Oh yes, I know the gov”shutdown” and all, spacecraft controllers are “essential”, right? I would hope so anyway. Good news just the same.
According to someone at NASA: “Early this morning (October 6), we fired LADEE’s main engine in a braking maneuver known as the Lunar Orbit Insertion (LOI) burn.”
“This slowed the spacecraft’s velocity enough for it to be captured by the Moon’s gravity. This critical burn went flawlessly and LADEE is now in lunar orbit! Two more main engine burns, on October 9 and 12 will adjust LADEE’s trajectory, settling it into its commissioning orbit.”
There should be two more orbital adjustment burns, one today, October 9th and the third on October 12 when LADEE should be close to the 250 km (155 mile) altitude goal.
After the low orbit has been achieved the 30 day commissioning of the three science instruments begins, sensors are exposed and the laser communication demonstration of high-speed optical communications will start. It will be fun to see how the laser communications works out.
After the commissioning phase the mission begins. Hopefully the bickering in the government will be over with and the mission teams can get to work. We shall see.