Incoming! SpaceX Falcon 9 Stage Heads for Crash on the Moon

A high-definition image of the Mars Australe lava plain on the Moon taken by Japan’s Kaguya lunar orbiter in November 2007. (Credit: JAXA/NHK)

PARIS (ESA PR) — The Moon is set to gain one more crater. A leftover SpaceX Falcon 9 upper stage will impact the lunar surface in early March, marking the first time that a human-made debris item unintentionally reaches our natural satellite.

In 2015 the Falcon 9 placed NOAA’s DSCOVR climate observatory around the L1 Lagrange point, one of five such gravitationally-stable points between Earth and the Sun. Having reached L1, around 1.5 million km from Earth, the mission’s upper stage ended up pointed away from Earth into interplanetary space.


A Look at NASA’s Plans to Explore the Moon

Image Credit: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University

Statement of Jason Crusan
Director, Advanced Exploration Systems Division
Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate
National Aeronautics and Space Administration

before the

Subcommittee on Space
Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
U. S. House of Representatives


Lunar CATALYST: Promoting Private Sector Robotic Exploration of the Moon

As part of the Agency’s overall strategy to conduct deep space exploration, NASA is also supporting the development of commercial lunar exploration. In 2014, NASA introduced an initiative called Lunar Cargo Transportation and Landing by Soft Touchdown (CATALYST). The purpose of the initiative is to encourage the development of U.S. private-sector robotic lunar landers capable of successfully delivering payloads to the lunar surface using U.S. commercial launch capabilities.


AIAA to Honor LCROSS, Robonaut 2 and Orbital Express Teams at Conference

R2 with astronaut Scott Kelly aboard the International Space Station. Credit: Credit: ESA/NASA
R2 with astronaut Scott Kelly aboard the International Space Station. Credit: Credit: ESA/NASA

Reston, Va. (AIAA PR) – The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) will present awards for key contributions to space science and technology during the AIAA SPACE 2013 Conference & Exposition, September 10–12, at the San Diego Convention Center, San Diego, Calif.

Video: Kenji Williams Performs Bella Gaia at NASA Ames

Kenji Williams performs Bella Gaia live on the lawn at NASA Ames Research Center prior to the LCROSS spacecraft striking the moon on Oct. 9, 2009. This was at about 2 in the morning in front of a group of people camped out to watch the early morning collision.

NASA to Release LCROSS and LRO Results on Thursday

The plume created by the LCROSS impact on the moon on Oct. 9. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON — NASA will host a media teleconference at 2 p.m. EDT on Thursday, Oct. 21, to discuss additional findings from NASA’s Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, and NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, missions.


NASA’s LCROSS Wins Breakthrough Award

The plume created by the LCROSS impact on the moon on Oct. 9, 2009.(Credit: NASA)


NASA’s Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, mission has won Popular Mechanics magazine’s 2010 Breakthrough Award for innovation in science and technology.

The sixth annual Breakthrough Awards recognize innovators and products poised to change the world in fields such as technology, medicine, aviation and environmental engineering. Honorees will be celebrated during a ceremony tonight at Hearst Tower in New York City.


NASA’s LCROSS Wins Swigert Award


The mission that definitively proved the presence of water on the Moon has been selected as the 2010 recipient of the Space Foundation’s John L. “Jack” Swigert, Jr., Award for Space Exploration. The Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) mission will be honored April 12 during the 26th National Space Symposium Opening Ceremony, sponsored by Northrop Grumman, at The Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, Colo.


Zubrin: Congratulations NASA, You’ve Discovered Greenland



While the results obtained from the LCROSS mission are of some scientific interest, it needs to be understood that the amount of water discovered was extremely small. The 30 m crater ejected by the probe contained 10 million kilograms of regolith. Within this ejecta, an estimated 100 kg of water was detected. That represents a proportion of 10 parts per million, which is a lower water concentration than that found in the soil of the driest deserts of the Earth. In contrast, we have found continent sized regions on Mars, which are 600,000 parts per million, or 60% water by weight.





On November 13, 2009, NASA announced that preliminary data from the Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, indicates that the mission successfully uncovered water during the October 9, 2009 impacts into the permanently shadowed region of Cabeus crater near the Moon’s south pole.

According to Mark Hopkins, Senior Vice President of the National Space Society, “The discovery of water on the Moon dramatically improves the case for the development of lunar resources. All of the varied proposals to use these resources to provide very large amounts of carbon free energy for use on the Earth are suddenly more cost effective. In the long run, lunar resources may provide the solution to our energy and climate change problems.”

Added Rick Zucker, NSS Vice President of Public Affairs, “NSS applauds NASA’s continuing efforts to unlock the secrets of the universe, to expand the boundaries of human knowledge, and to apply that which we learn for the betterment of humanity.”

NASA Mission Finds “Significant Amount” of Water on the Moon

The plume created by the LCROSS impact on the moon on Oct. 9. (Credit: NASA)
The plume created by the LCROSS impact on the moon on Oct. 9. (Credit: NASA)

At a press conference this morning in California, NASA scientists announced that they had discovered a significant amount of water buried under the seemingly dry lunar surface.

Officials at the NASA Ames Research Center revealed preliminary findings from the LCROSS mission, which last month slammed a Centaur upper stage into the Cabeus crater at the moon’s south pole. Measurements of the resulting plume were taken by a trailing vehicle, NASA’s LRO lunar orbiter, and other spacecraft.


LCROSS Update: Mercury and Iron Possibly Found in Impact Plume


Kelly Beatty has an update on the LCROSS findings over at Sky & Telescope. NASA scientists are still analyzing data and may announce some preliminary results (including the discovery of water) at the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group meeting in Houston on Nov. 16-19.

For now, let me tantalize you with a preliminary result from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which viewed the Centaur’s demise from nearly overhead and just 48 miles (76 km) up. An instrument dubbed the Lyman-Alpha Mapping Project (LAMP) probed the ultraviolet spectrum of the impact plume after it had risen high enough to be projected against black space above the lunar limb.


LCROSS Captures Impact Plume



NASA’s Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) was a smashing success, returning tantalizing data about the Centaur impact before the spacecraft itself impacted the surface of the moon.

Last week, plunging headlong into Cabeus crater, the nine LCROSS instruments successfully captured each phase of the impact sequence: the impact flash, the ejecta plume, and the creation of the Centaur crater.


Spudis: LCROSS More Hype Than Science


Paul Spudis, Senior Staff Scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, doesn’t think much of the recently concluded LCROSS mission. In a essay titled, “LCROSS: Mission to HYPErspace,” he outlines its scientific shortcomings: (more…)

NASA: LCROSS Instruments Worked “Exceedingly Well”



NASA’s Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, created twin impacts on the moon’s surface early Friday in a search for water ice. Scientists will analyze data from the spacecraft’s instruments to assess whether water ice is present.

The satellite traveled 5.6 million miles during an historic 113-day mission that ended in the Cabeus crater, a permanently shadowed region near the moon’s south pole. The spacecraft was launched June 18 as a companion mission to the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.


LCROSS Ames Update


It’s 2:30 a.m. here at NASA Ames. All looks good for an impact on the moon in two hours time.

A crowd out on the parade grounds is watching the end of “October Sky,” the Homer Hickham biopic, which is being projected on a big screen. It’s the third and final film of the night, following “Fly Me to the Moon” and “The Dish.”

Kenji Williams is scheduled to do a musical performance at 2:45. I’m not sure if it’s going to be live or on video. I’ll see if I can post some video of it.