NASA has been hard at work in recent months, and the space agency has some ambitious plans related to the moon. Some of the plans rely on technology that was cutting-edge almost a decade ago when the last mission, which focused on the moon, took place.
The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, in 2009LCROSSand it has served a valuable tool for several studies. While the initial mission plan was limited to research for a suitable landing, the spacecraft was designed with flexibility in mind.
The interest in lunar missions faded during the first year of operations, but NASA plans to repurpose the spacecraft and explore collected data to search for usable landing zones again. By renewing the mission of the LRO NASA researchers hope to collect essential data.
It is worth noting that LRO was the spearhead of a massive space program announced by President George. W. Bush. The program was launched in the aftermath of the Columbia tragedy, and the main focus was the opportunity of human space travel beyond the low Earth orbit.
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At that time, the program featured great steeps among which we can count the retirement of the space shuttles in 2010, the development and launch of a new NASA rocket in 2014, and a visit to the moon by 2020.
With the robotic missions, NASA and the government hoped to pave a way towards the moon. LRO was launched alongside the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, also known as LCROSS.
During the first months of 2010, the Obama administration decided, shift the focus of the program on ISS missions, advanced rockets, and commercial launches.
Despite the change of plans, the seven instruments present on the LRO played an essential role in the search for water on the moon. As NASA and its partners are looking forward to the Artemis initiative, the future of LRO is quite bright.