Early this morning, the astronomy and space world watched as the Northrop Grumman-built Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) successfully impacted the moon’s Cabeus crater, ending a 112-day mission to find water ice on the moon that could serve as a resource for future lunar outposts. According to NASA, the debris cloud created by LCROSS’ impact produced good telemetry and was recorded by space and ground-based observatories. NASA will gather and analyze impact data from professional and amateur astronomers worldwide over the next several months to determine if water ice is present.
LCROSS uses a standardized structural element; commercial-off-the-shelf hardware, sensors and components; flight-proven payload instruments and sophisticated risk management. The spacecraft was ready for delivery in just 29 months for a total mission cost of $79 million.
“The success of this mission is a tribute to the tremendous engineering skills and partnership between Northrop Grumman and NASA Ames Research Center, ” said Steve Hixson, vice president of Advanced Concepts-Space and Directed Energy Systems for Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. “We believe LCROSS will open the doors to new research and exploration missions based on the LCROSS model.”