With moon probe bug fixed, LADEE on track for lunar date

Story highlights

  • LADEE suffered a "reaction wheel issue" soon after it was launched Friday
  • The Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer is "healthy" and issue resolved, NASA says
  • The probe is set to orbit the moon starting October 6
  • It will study the lunar atmosphere and environmental influences on lunar dust

NASA engineers fixed a glitch that threatened to derail a space probe on its way to the moon, the space agency said.

The Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer suffered a "reaction wheel issue" soon after it was launched on top of a 90-foot rocket from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia, on Friday, NASA said.

"The reaction wheel issue noted soon after launch was resolved a few hours later," said S. Pete Worden, director of NASA's Ames Research Center. "The LADEE spacecraft is healthy and communicating with mission operators."

LADEE is designed to "orbit the moon to gather detailed information about the lunar atmosphere, conditions near the surface and environmental influences on lunar dust," NASA said.

"A thorough understanding of these characteristics will address long-standing unknowns, and help scientists understand other planetary bodies as well," NASA said.

The probe is expected to reach the moon on October 6. After orbiting for six months, it will plunge to the lunar surface to end its mission.

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Earth's distance from the moon averages about 239,000 miles and varies depending on the moon's position, the space agency says.