Tuesday, April 01, 2008
NASA will join the British National Space Centre and small-spacecraft maker Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. (SSTL) in a unique lunar exploration project, dubbed MoonLITE ((Moon Lightweight Interior and Telecom Experiment). The MoonLITE mission will place a small spacecraft in lunar orbit and fire four 36-kg instrumented projectiles into the lunar surface. Total mass at the time of launch would be 846 kg, 306 kg of that being propellant. The mission would revisit one Apollo site and then extend the survey to areas even less well known, placing one probe (with a water sensor) in a polar area and two on the "dark side." If technical reviews and funding are go, the probe would launch in 2012.