NASA counts down to two launches

Posted by Emma Woollacott

It's a busy week for NASA, with an International Space Station (ISS) mission set for Saturday, and a moon launch Wednesday that could lay the groundwork for a planned manned mission.

Cape Canaveral, Fla - It's a busy week for NASA, with  an International Space Station (ISS) mission set for Saturday, and a moon launch planned for Wednesday that could lay some of the groundwork for a planned manned mission.

NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Spacecraft (LCROSS) will launch atop the same Atlas V rocket. LRO will go into orbit around the moon - and, amongst other things, will be looking for potential landing sites for astronauts.

LCROSS will guide an empty upper stage on a collision course with a permanently shaded crater in an effort to find evidence of water at the moon's poles. LCROSS itself will also impact the lunar surface during its course of study.

Liftoff is scheduled for June 17 at 3.51pm EDT. The launch and mission teams met yesterday in Florida for the Flight Readiness Review and announced that were no major issues or concerns.

In the meantime, space shuttle Endeavour is preparing to carry seven astronauts and a key piece of the Japanese laboratory complex to the International Space Station, said Mike Moses, chairman of the mission management team.

"We're in really good shape to fly," Moses said.

Endeavour's crew is to install a platform to one end of the Japanese Kibo laboratory on the station. The platform will hold experiments designed to work outside the protective confines of the station.

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