50 Kilometers above the moon

So tomorrow evening NASA is hoping to get this satellite launched out of Wallops Island, Virginia.  Orbital Sciences is launching the satellite payload on top of a converted Peacekeeper ICBM (InterContinental Ballistic Missile), now called a Minotaur V.  According to NASA’s mission statement, they would like to have the satellite orbiting the moon in a few months and start examining the moon’s exosphere and a few other things.  This animation may be helpful to you.

Also from the NASA page:  the orbit of the satellite will be about 5o Kms above the moon’s equator, moving in a clockwise (retrograde) orbit (if you were to look at the moon from above its north pole).  The period of the orbit would be 113 minutes.  Animation of the orbital insertion is here.

If you live on the east coast, you might have a chance to see the launch tomorrow night, at least according to the pretty PowerPoint pictures in this article.  Just don’t be in an area where a launch accident might ruin your day…

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