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Minotaur launches LADEE lunar mission
Posted: Sat, Sep 7, 2013, 11:35 AM ET (1535 GMT)
Minotaur 5 launch of LADEE (Orbital Sciences) A Minotaur 5 successfully launched a NASA lunar orbiter spacecraft Friday night, although project officials said the spacecraft is suffering from what they consider to be a minor problem. The Minotaur 5, a version of the Minotaur 4 rocket with an additional stage, launched from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia at 11:27 pm EDT Friday (0327 GMT Saturday) and placed the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft into a highly elliptical orbit. LADEE will transition from this orbit into one around the Moon in early October, and start its 100-day science mission a month later. The spacecraft, weighing less than 400 kilograms, will study the Moon's extremely tenuous atmosphere and the behavior of lunar dust. Project officials said that the spacecraft encountered a problem with its reaction wheels immediately after entering orbit, but believe the problem is not a serious one and can be resolved before the spacecraft arrives at the Moon.
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