Cape Gazette
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NASA shares upcoming moon mission with social media followers

By Teresa Rodriguez | Sep 06, 2013
Source: NASA Social NASA Social attendees from across the country pose in front of the gantry enclosing the Minotaur V space vehicle at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport launching pad in Wallops Island.


NASA is hosting a two-day event for 50 of its social media followers on Thursday, Sept. 5, and Friday, Sept. 6, at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, Va., for the launch of NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE).

The event, called a NASA Social, is an informal meeting of people who engage with NASA through social media accounts. Socials provide NASA followers with the opportunity to go behind-the-scenes at NASA facilities and events and speak with scientists, engineers, astronauts and managers.

The ongoing social for the LADEE mission is only the second event of its kind to be held at the Wallops Island facility. The mission also marks the first deep space launch from that site.

The LADEE is designed to study the Moon's thin atmosphere and the lunar dust environment. Instruments aboard the probe will also examine dust particles that may get lofted into the atmosphere.

Several new technologies will also be tested, including a modular spacecraft design that may reduce the cost of future deep space missions and a two-way high rate laser communication system.

LADEE will be carried by the Minotaur V, a five-stage expendable launch system derived in part from a former Peacekeeper or MX missile, and designed to place a payload in Earth orbit. This will be the first voyage for this version of the Minotaur vehicle.

Current launch time is 11:27 p.m. on Friday, with a four-minute window. Live coverage at www.nasatv.com begins at 9:30 p.m. Skywatchers from the Mid-Atlantic Region should be able to see the Minotaur V's trail as it leaves the Earth.

More coverage about the NASA Social experience will be posted on CapeGazette.com.

The 80-foot Minotaur V unveiled. (Photo by: Teresa Rodriguez)
Orbital Sciences employees at the top of the gantry snap pictures and wave to an appreciative crowd below. (Photo by: Teresa Rodriguez)
An artist's rendition of NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE). (Photo by: NASA Ames)
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