Feeds

NASA suffers rocket fail 20 seconds from firing

Discovery delayed too and the moon probe navigation fails...

Remote control for virtualized desktops

And on top of that, the shadow ice-lake pole-prang probe is running out of juice

Meanwhile there was another technical hiccup for NASA this week out in space, as it was revealed that the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) moon-impactor probe has suffered a technical glitch causing almost all of its manoeuvring fuel reserve to be used up. The LCROSS package is currently engaged in complicated orbital manoeuvres around both Earth and Moon intended to line it up for a high-speed, high-angle crash into the lunar south pole on the 9th of October.

NASA graphic showing the LCROSS package just after separation

Headed for the (possible) shadow ice lakes of the lunar antarctic

The idea of LCROSS is that the Centaur upper stage from the launch rocket - specially modified for this job - will crash into one of the permanently-shadowed craters at the lunar south pole, closely followed by a "shepherding spacecraft" which will separate from the Centaur about 7 hours before impact and hit just minutes behind it. The shepherd, in its last few seconds of life, will be able to scan the cloud of dust and debris caused by the Centaur strike.

This will, NASA hopes, confirm the presence of water ice in the dark crater bottoms of the lunar antarctic. The presence of accessible water would make any future moon base much easier and cheaper to run.

But according to NASA, earlier this week the Centaur's inertial-nav unit was found to have shut down, causing the probe to switch to a backup mode in which it observes stars to measure its rates of roll, pitch and yaw. This is apparently much less accurate and efficient, and causes the LCROSS to use a lot more manoeuvring fuel to maintain attitude.

NASA says that "a substantial amount of fuel" was used up before ground controllers could get the probe back onto inertial mode. It seems there's still enough fuel to carry out a successful mission, but another such mishap would be likely to mean failure.

LCROSS was launched on the same rocket as the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, a scanning satellite which is mapping the moon with great accuracy, seeking potential landing sites for possible future astronauts.

Under some of the options being considered by the Augustine panel, moon-return and/or moonbase plans would be scrapped. A failure by LCROSS to find water - or to find out one way or the other - would also be bad news for the moonbase plans.

Meanwhile, NASA has also suffered repeated technical delays this week to the launch of shuttle Discovery, bound for the ISS with one of the final loads of kit for completing the station. Officials now say that Discovery will launch later today. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Simon's says quantum computing will work
Boffins blast algorithm with half a dozen qubits
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup
Key considerations when evaluating cloud backup solutions to ensure adequate protection security and availability of enterprise data.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.