On Course for the Moon!


The wait is over! Under cloudy skies LRO and LCROSS thundered into the atmosphere enroute to the moon. Watch the launch (MP4, 143 MB) 


NASA’s LRO and LCROSS spacecraft on top of the Atlas V rocket launch from
Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Image: NASA


An United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket blasts off with NASA’s LRO/LRCOSS
mission from Space Launch Complex-41, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.,
at 5:32 p.m. EDT today. Image Credit: Pat Corkery, United Launch Alliance

Everyone was nervous with all the weather constraints and afraid a nearby thunderstorm would scrub the launch and force it to go on Friday. But the weather was with us and we heard those magic words that we were “good to go.”


Countdown clock, post-launch, L+28

The next mission milestones will be separation of the spacecraft from each other. Then later tonight we’ll wait for the upper stage Centaur to turn over operations to the LCROSS spacecraft.

31 thoughts on “On Course for the Moon!”

  1. if these are the missions to blow a huge hole into the moon in the name of ‘research’ then i hope the rocket doesn’t make it. has anyone at NASA asked any other human on this planet what they think about firing a missile into the moon surface, creating a huge crater ? this is not the way to go … why do Americans have to blow everything up ?

  2. Well done, NASA! I’ve read through the blogs and comments, particularly the ones that raise an outcry about “all the money” being “wasted” on this venture. I’m not a scientist, but I admire great minds, and here’s an article you can read where two of them, Stephen Hawking and Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg, speak strongly on behalf of manned space exploration:

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn13748-stephen-hawking-calls-for-moon-and-mars-colonies.html

    “Even if we were to increase the international [space exploration] budget 20 times to make a serious effort to go into space, it would only be a small fraction of world GDP,” he said. GDP, or Gross Domestic Product, is a measure of a country’s economic activity. Hawking argued that the world can afford 0.25% of its collective GDP to devote to space colonisation. ‘Isn’t our future worth a quarter of a percent?’ he asked.”

    Sadly, our instant-gratification world also affects the views of our space program. We want it NOW, for US, TODAY, RIGHT NOW and give little thought to the human race as a whole. I could understand this view better if this was a true statement: “NASA is wasting money. They’re taking gas out of my car and food out of my mouth and giving nothing in return.”

    But look at the numbers and the amount of funding they receive — ridiculously small in ratio to the importance of the goals. Benefits on Earth? Here’s a thought: do less underinformed blog posting and do some reading instead. Aside from the more long-reaching benefits of space exploration — you know, like maybe saving the human race one day — NASA earns their “keep” many times over in the technologies that begin with space research and end up being adapted here on Earth. Think this doesn’t apply to you? If you use GPS or reference weather satellites or want better cancer treatments or fly on an airplane in windy or icy conditions or eat food with less pesticides or drink cleaner water, then yes…it does have a positive affect on you.

  3. I think that it is you who should read and contemplate the matter deeply before you post your underinformed blog comments “guest”. If you prefer to “eat all information as served” than be my guest…

  4. Human & Muody,
    How many craters do you count on the moon’s surface? Quite a few, and the number is expanding daily due to meteor strikes. The impact crater created by the Centaur will only be 66 feet wide by 13 feet deep. That’s 20 meters wide by 4 meters deep–barely a scratch in a sea of scratches. Its small size coupled with it location at the moon’s south pole mean that you will not be able to see the crater, even with your backyard telescope, once the dust settles. If you would read the previous blog posts, you should see the scientific reasons for conducting this research are quite sound.

    But if that isn’t justification enough for you, we Americans like blowing things up just because it’s fun.

  5. Hi. Where is the specific, detailed information you’ll be providing, “muody?” I don’t see it yet in your posts, which consist of a “me, too” add-on to Human’s comment and a one-line snipe at the post from guest. Your thoughtful response, sprinkled with some facts, would be appreciated.

    BTW, regarding your post, it should be “then,” not “than.” I mention it only because I know you prefer all information “as served.” lol

  6. Folks,
    In the photo caption “An United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket blasts off …” there are a number of wires that criss cross around the rocket. Some of them appear to bend around the upper stage. I presume these are part of the lightening protection. What is the risk these wires get snagged on the rocket and affect it nominal take off.

  7. I’m so proud of all of you especially Kristen B. who works hard on this project and is in the Mom role (and does it well by the way) at the same time.
    That said, I’m am looking forward to sharing the future mission results with my students and especially the LCROSS inpact in October. For all you “Nay-Sayers”, you have the right to clammer, but progress is what it’s all about. Columbus would still be sailing around Europe, if he would be alive today, if he took your comments seriously.

  8. Greetings,

    Columbus was indeed an explorer but he did not have the knowledge to understand the consequences of his actions. Among other things he and/or his crew brought syphilis to Europe.

    We have far a greater understanding of risk and consequences, which is why we quarantined the astronauts who returned from the moon and continue to monitor them.

    The USA is not the only country with a space agency that has crashed stuff into the moon.

    If you are deeply concerned about crashing stuff into the moon the best thing you can do is ask the respective agency for an environmental impact report on their plans – after all we have to do that for significant developments on earth.

  9. Congratulations on a successful launch. Way to go, NASA!

    I have fond memories of staying up all night to “experience” the first manned voyage to the moon. It is good to know that we are once again on our way (one step at a time).

  10. Here are just a few of the facts that come to light:

    1. Exploding a bomb on the moon will displace several miles of Lunar material according to what NASA claims will happen.

    2. The displacement of lunar material will follow Newton’s law about equal and opposite reaction. This means that an equal force will be exerted on the Moon to match the force it takes to eject miles of material. No one can actually predict what will happen, just as NASA failed miserably predicting the results of another experiment. In a previous mission, a NASA spacecraft fired a high velocity copper warhead penetrator into a comet’s core. The results were not what they expected. This is because popular science theory really believes comets are dirty snowballs. Instead, the actual results were already predicted by the electric universe theory. Comets are not dirty snowballs which is something many of us already knew. Yet again, NASA refused to use common sense and look at theories based on real evidence and science, such as the electric universe theory.

    3. If the McDonald Moon ranging project is cancelled, no one will be able to measure the displacement of the Moon caused by the explosion. Perhaps this is the idea by cancelling the project.

    4. Exploding a bomb on the Moon is against all international laws and treaties. NASA doesn’t own the Moon and they never will, and as such have no right to instigate such madness. This madness is on a par with the utterly insane space elevator.

    5. Last but not least is the water issue. This is one follows yet another big lie. Almost every book about our solar system claims it is nearly a perfect vacuum. So how does water behave when exposed to a reduced atmosphere? The speed it evaporates (sublimates) is in proportion to the amount of atmosphere present. If a window blows out of a plane at 50,000 ft. water and blood will boil. And that’s not even in a very good vacuum.

  11. Wow. Someone really should tell all those nasty ol’ natural bombs called “meteors” to stop hitting the Moon. Don’t they know the consequences? Stop it! Stop it at once!

  12. I fear that if we detonat a bomb on the moon there are acouple of things that may accure 1. If we do detonat the bomb, the force from the impack may be so powerful and then it could nock the moon out of it’s orbit. Thus causing low tides all the time wich could terible consequences. 2. Or after the big boom a great cloud of dust could fall over the earth’s atmosphere. It would block out the sun, it could even get in the atmosphere then it would become hazardous to step outside. Imagine a world of darness it would take centuries or even longer for it to clear up. Life as we know it would be different. Think about it.

  13. I totally agree with Human. I haven’t heard about NASA going to blow up a bomb on the moon surface. Should it be true it’s another sign of scientist’s growing insanity, humans do things just because they can, no matter what trouble it may cause. It’s outrageous that taxpayers’ money is wasted on scientists seeking glory, self-satisfaction and fun, while people in US are not admitted to hospitals if they don’t have health insurance. Progress in the name of progress is nothing but fanaticism and is as dangerous as extreme forms of any ideology or religion. Are we really following the right line of progress or maybe it’s time to start looking in other directions? No one has right to force their idea of progress on the rest of the humanity, besides I believe true progress consists in the evolution of mentality rather than technological toys, organ transplants or silicon implants (if at least organs could be regenerated and in the right place). As if it weren’t enough having blown up so many nukes on this planet, now we are eager to sow seeds of destruction beyond our frontiers. If only we made that much effort to take care of our home (the only one to my knowledge)! Mind, I’m not against the progress, I’m simply afraid of mindless progress. I wish I were wrong!

  14. I find these responses very entertaining indeed!

    First of all, some of you need to do a little research as to why this is being done. The “hippie” ideologies many of the posts below reflect is laughable.

    America is the only remaining superpower because of progress that has been made. The European world of old has long-since passed away, the strangle-hold China used to have on the entire WORLD was done away with in a generation because they decided that exploration and “progress for the sake of progress” wasn’t worth it.

    Complain if it makes you feel better. Americans and Russians (along with some stragglers) are amping up for never-before attempted exploration and a knowledge explosion. If you don’t want to come along, by all means…stay in the mentality that history has demonstrated time and time again doesn’t work. In fact, I would prefer you be left behind.

  15. I wonder what you would say if you had no medical insurance and couldn’t pay the doctor while your government flings expensive toys into the outer space (no-one can be too sure it will never happen to them — life often plays lousy tricks), or if an alien race finally tracks us down before pollution (a direct product of “knowledge explosion”) has definitely choked us, passes some nasty bugs on to humans (just like the Spanish conquistadores did with native Indians) and experiment on people (just like humans do with animals). I guess for some reason you are sure they would pick everybody else but you. Well, people usually start to understand things that prick their own hide.

    Mind that US can afford to finance its space adventure largely thanks to cheap labour and exploitation of poor countries’ natural resources. More than half of the world population couldn’t care less about space research when everyday survival is an uphill struggle.
    Today science technology has become our new ideology and religion and as such they create fanatics, because only the self-opinionated never accept critical analysis of their faith. I love science, but fanaticism scares the life out of me.

    By the way, when did China have “the strangle-hold” on the whole world? You probably meant Russia or the US.
    No mentality will ever work unless human being changes, which is highly unlikely. What’s more, current situation insistently brings to mind the story of Tower of Babel. So I’d prefer a psychopath with a bludgeon to the one with a nuke. Those who are going to be left behind have the right to a different point of view and wish those who rush forward would vanish from sight, leave this planet before destroying it completely and never come back.

  16. “Guest”,

    Please feel free to pick up a history book and learn about how China used to dominate the world. Trade, military power, and economy that started trade routes to the “new world” centuries before the Europeans.

    A quick history lesson will provide to you the simple knowledge that one emporer decided that China should focus on internal problems. Entire fleets of trade and exploration ships were burned, literally. Within a decade, China had decayed to the point where it took them generations to enjoy prosperity again.

    However, seeing that you would rather attempt to derrogate the U.S. while trying to take the position as a champion of socialism allow me to simply say, “wow”.

  17. Nobody is trying to derogate from the US, this is a global issue (promoted by many countries) that concerns the whole humanity as everyone is involved willy-nilly. I guess the well-offs don’t care where their tax money goes (that’s why most of them either reside in tax havens or find tax loopholes).

    Unfortunately I’m not that rich, therefore I don’t want the wealthy to play with indecently expensive toys at my expense unless these games result in the discovery of eternal youth, eradication of diseases, immortality and boundless opulence for everyone — sounds like biblical Paradise! Should it be true, I’d probably be among the most gung-ho of space tourists.

    However, it isn’t tax money that worries me most (after all human society has always worked this way), but the problems we can incur as a result of such a reckless attitude. I wonder what you personally expect to gain from moon missions — the satisfaction of clapping a bunch of your compatriots when they get the prize? In this case you are a true communist — you put public interests before your own!

    Unlike you, I don’t live in a wonderland and I’m acutely aware there are much more urgent needs in this world than space research that, on the other hand, is largely aimed at winning the arms race.

    Instead of repeating yourself you could at least adduce some concrete facts about Chinese domination, like the dates, the emperor’s name etc — I’m really intrigued! (By the way, Vikings and Polynesians travelled to America 2000 years before Europeans did, but it didn’t contribute much to their development at the time).

    Anyway, since we’ve already passed the point of no return, I’d rather take a laid-back approach.
    Let’s wait and see.

  18. What good will come of bombing the moon? How will science or the human race benefit from it? The moon controls the tides on our plant. What happens if bombing it messes with its orbit or worse??? This is a very bad idea. There are too many unknown possible consequences.

  19. how come there is not info advertisment for such big step , i mean launchin a missile on the moon surface really is a big historical event, we only imagined what would be like to blow up the moon and u guys actually going to do that , why spend all this money wonderign whats on the moon , instead of helping better our planet and stop global warming, why is it that nasa is so interested on whats on the moon , but not what we humans sufering on our planet, why doesnt nasa share more about whats really going on , and when are u guys going to stop thinkin we are just a dumb breed and not the most interesting living organisims in this universe, personally i dont think you are telling us all the truth , and i dont believ its necessary to mess with our moon just for scientific studies, yeah u guys are scientist but u are not god (:

  20. I would like to say that this is wrong to mess with the moon and nature … I am one of many concerned kids who have spoken out to the world about this event . America should stop interfering with space YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT DAMAGE YOU ALL ARE CAUSING !!!!!!!! The moon is a natural aspect and cannot be replaced !!!! What if there was no moon left after this event ?? We humans dont full grasp the consequences of our irresponsible actions . I am more then happy to be able to speak to someone in person about this matter .. We are concerned for the World and space .. I take geography at school and quite educated in space. If anyone has contacts for me to get hold of email me MATTHEEKELLY@YAHOO.COM . I am writing from South Africa , Johannesburg.

  21. I fear that if we detonat a bomb on the moon there are acouple of things that may accure 1. If we do detonat the bomb, the force from the impack may be so powerful and then it could nock the moon out of it's orbit. Thus causing low tides all the time wich could terible consequences. 2. Or after the big boom a great cloud of dust could fall over the earth's atmosphere. It would block out the sun, it could even get in the atmosphere then it would become hazardous to step outside. Imagine a world of darness it would take centuries or even longer for it to clear up. Life as we know it would be different. Think about it.

  22. Congratulations on a successful launch. Way to go, NASA!
    Thanks for the information. A very informative one I was looking for it. Keep up the good work and would like to hear more from you.

  23. i have a question for all of you, if the moon can barely hold people to it’s surface then how can the moon create ocean tides with gravity? please help me figure this out!! thanks! 😛 ps i know that this question is so off subject but i really need help with the answer!!

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