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NASA to blast moon for water

NASA wants to ascertain whether the planet harbours water that could be used for manned missions.

india Updated: Apr 12, 2006 11:34 IST

NASA plans to crash a small spacecraft into the moon to ascertain whether the planet harbours water that could be used for manned missions.

The US space agency said on Monday that this would be an early step in delivering the first astronauts to the planet since the last Apollo missions more than 30 years ago.

The name of the mission is LCROSS -- Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite -- will hitch a ride to the moon onboard the same rocket as the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) satellite due to launch from the Kennedy Space Centre in October 2008.

"The LCROSS mission gives the agency an excellent opportunity to answer the question about water ice on the moon," says Daniel Andrews of NASA Ames, whose team proposed LCROSS.

"We think we have assembled a very creative, highly innovative mission."

LCROSS will hunt for water by hitting the moon twice, throwing up plumes that may contain signs of water.

After the launch, the LCROSS spacecraft will arrive in the moon's vicinity independent of Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.

On the way to the moon, the LCROSS spacecraft's two main parts, the Shepherding Spacecraft (S-S/C) and the Earth Departure Upper Stage (EDUS), will remain coupled. As the pair approach the moon's south pole, the upper stage will separate, and then hit a crater in the south pole area.