LADEE mission managers at NASA Ames Research Center announced on Saturday that they had fixed a problem with the spacecraft's fault protection software that turned off its reaction wheels. The glitch had surfaced during technical checkouts after the spacecraft successfully launched from NASA Wallops Island in Virginia at 11:27 p.m. EDT Friday, Sept. 6. The reaction wheels , which are used to position and stabilize the spacecraft, were successfully reactivated a few hours after the problem was detected. NASA Ames center director S. Peter Worden said "The LADEE spacecraft is healthy and communicating with ground controllers."
The Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) will take about a month to reach the moon. Once in orbit near the moon's equator the spacecraft will being to study to moon's extremely thin atmosphere, conditions near the surface an environmental influences on lunar dust. LADEE will also test two-way laser communication technology which could be used on future space exploration missions.
The spectacular rocket launch on Friday night could be seen over a large portion of the East Coast. Thousands of people gathered at NASA Ames Research Center to watch a live broadcast of the launch on a giant outdoor screen. In the hours leading up to the launch the crowd heard talks about the mission from NASA scientists and engineers and listened to music from the NASA Ames Bluegrass band and from the Santa Cruz, Calif. based rock band Tone Captain.