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LRO enters lunar orbit
Posted: Wed, Jun 24, 2009, 1:41 PM ET (1741 GMT)
Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter illustration (NASA) NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft entered orbit around the Moon early Tuesday. NASA confirmed that LRO had inserted itself into lunar orbit at 6:27 am EDT (1027 GMT) Tuesday, after an engine burn by the spacecraft. The spacecraft will perform a series of additional engine burns this week to put the spacecraft into a "commissioning orbit" where the spacecraft's instruments will be checked out over a two-month period. LRO will then enter a 50-kilometer orbit for science observations. The spacecraft was launched last Thursday on an Atlas 5 from Florida along with a secondary payload, the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS). The spacecraft, still attached to the Centaur upper stage that launched it and LRO, swung by the Moon on Tuesday. That maneuver the spacecraft into a highly elliptical Earth orbit that will set it and the Centaur onto a trajectory to collide with the Moon in early October, as planned.
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