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Emily LakdawallaOctober 8, 2009

LCROSS Centaur separation and braking burn successful

LCROSS and its Centaur upper stage have separated successfully, and the LCROSS shepherd spacecraft has braked in order to follow behind the Centaur when both impact the Moon tomorrow. Everything seemed to go perfectly. Here's a four-frame animation (covering about 5 minutes of real time) of the Centaur slowly drifting away from LCROSS. It's always special to see artifacts that we built here on Earth, floating in the utterly alien environment of space.

LCROSS watches the Centaur move ahead

NASA / GSFC

LCROSS watches the Centaur move ahead
At 7 p.m. Pacific time on October 8 (02:00 UTC October 9), LCROSS watched its Centaur upper stage drift slowly away. The two had just separated after spending more than 100 days orbiting Earth together. The Centaur will impact the Moon four minutes before the LCROSS shepherding spacecraft at 4:31 a.m. Pacific / 11:31 UTC on October 9.

That's it for me for the night; I've got my alarm set for 3:15 local time tomorrow morning, when I will get up and start Tweeting away about the upcoming impact. I have shipped off my toddler to her grandparents, but the 5-month-old needs to be with me. I am quite sure she'll wake up at some critical moment; but that's why they invented pacifiers, right?

See you all in about 7 hours...

Read more: mission status, LCROSS

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Emily Lakdawalla

Senior Editor and Planetary Evangelist for The Planetary Society
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