NASA's Lunar Trailblazer Gets a Taste of Space
NASA's Lunar Trailblazer undergoes thermal vacuum chamber (TVAC) testing at Lockheed Martin Space in Littleton, Colorado, in June 2023. The extremely low pressures and temperatures during these tests simulate the conditions that the spacecraft will experience during in space. Lunar Trailblazer, which has a mass of about 440 pounds (200 kilograms) and measures only 11.5 feet (3.5 meters) wide with its solar panels deployed, has now completed TVAC testing and is nearing completion before its planned launch in early 2024.
The spacecraft's two science instruments will map the form, abundance, and locations of water in on the lunar surface while also revealing the thermal properties and surface composition of those regions.
Planned to launch in early 2024, Lunar Trailblazer was selected under NASA's Small Innovative Missions for Planetary Exploration (SIMPLEx) program in 2019. The mission is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, and its science investigation is led by Caltech in Pasadena, California. A division of Caltech, JPL built the HVM³ instrument. In addition, it provides system engineering, mission assurance, and navigation. Lockheed Martin Space provides the spacecraft and integrates the flight system, under contract with Caltech.
SIMPLEx mission investigations are managed by the Planetary Missions Program Office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, as part of the Discovery Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington. The program conducts space science investigations in the Planetary Science Division of NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
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