The 100-day LADEE robotic mission, operated by NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., is carrying four payloads to the moon. Three are for dust collection and analysis of the moon’s thin atmosphere. The fourth payload is the Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD).
Researchers at MIT developed the LLCD experiment to show that communicating beyond Earth with two-way laser communication is possible. LLCD should be able to send six times more data with less power than a radio frequency (RF) system. Moog has supplied avionics for the LLCD along with a Moog Micro3 gimbal to point the laser beam. The LADEE spacecraft reached the moon’s orbit on Oct. 6. The LLCD began shortly after reaching lunar orbit.
“We like to say that Moog makes missions go,” said Eric Anderson, chief technologist for Moog’s Space Sector. “The LADEE mission showcases the diverse and comprehensive technology Moog offers the space industry.”
During the launch of LADEE on a Minotaur V rocket, a Moog SoftRide vibration isolation system reduced energy transmission between the launch vehicle and the satellite; attitude control system components made by Moog oriented the vehicle. To establish and maintain its lunar orbit, LADEE is relying on Moog-designed thrusters and latch valves, which are part of the spacecraft’s propulsion system. Moog’s integrated avionics unit (IAU) controls the spacecraft and interfaces to the four LADEE payloads. The Moog avionics unit includes a flight control computer and data handling.
Before the mission launched, engineers put in place Moog environmental control system technology to protect LADEE as a specially rigged truck transported the spacecraft from California to Virginia.