After Successful LADEE Launch, NASA Fixes Lunar Probe's Wheel Problem [PHOTOS & VIDEO]
After a perfect launch of the LADEE spacecraft on Friday night, the lunar probe ran into a spot of trouble when its reaction wheels shut down. The wheels, which are used to orient and stabilize LADEE, were spinning too fast after the probe separated from the Minotaur V rocket that blasted it into space, according to Pete Worden, director of NASA's Ames Research Center in California.
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The incident occurred just a few hours after LADDE took off from Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va., the first such deep space launch from the site. By Saturday afternoon, NASA engineers had diagnosed the problem after realizing that a safety mechanism in LADEE's computer had shut the wheels down because they were spinning so fast. NASA engineers were able to override the safety mechanism.
"The reaction wheel issue noted soon after launched was resolved a few hours later," said Worden. "The LADEE spacecraft is healthy and communicating with mission operators."
NASA said that LADEE is still perfectly on track to reach the moon in about 30 days. Once in lunar orbit, LADEE will study the lunar atmosphere and moon dust.
The LADEE launch on Friday night provided a perfect photographic opportunity for those on the East Coast. Below are some images from the LADEE launch, along with video from Friday night. Additional images can be seen at the LADEE launch Flickr pool.
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