Wallops Island, VA, United States (4E) – NASA’s lunar prober LADEE lifted off Friday from a spaceport in Wallops Island, Virginia to orbit the moon and study its dust and exosphere.
LADEE, which stands for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer, was shot into orbit by a five-stage Minotaur 5 rocket that launched from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport around 11:27 p.m. EDT.
The LADEE will orbit the Earth thrice to reach a designated lunar orbit. From there, it will drop down to 12 and 37 miles above the lunar surface, to begin its three-month mission.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said LADEE is the first spacecraft that will study the moon’s dust and its thin atmosphere.
LADEE’s instruments will collect data on the dynamics of the moon’s rough dust for use in designing spacecraft protection against it.
When the LADEE runs out of fuel, NASA controllers will crash it into the lunar surface.