Friday, October 18, 2013
The US government is back, but even during the shutdown one can be thankful for the skeleton crew assigned to LADEE, deemed a necessity because it hadn't reached lunar orbit by the 1st of October.
How did it get there? Doing this.
That is the answer to the question "why didn't LADEE just go to the moon in three days like Apollo did?"
Or in words, the answer is:
The Apollo astronauts had a quicker flight — three days instead of 30 — but it required breathtaking precision and a mountain of fuel. Instead, LADEE flew along "phasing loops," taking big orbital swings around Earth until it crossed paths with the moon...With this "phasing loop" approach, the astrogators built a nearly infinite amount of flexibility into their mission design. If the initial launch had been a bit low, or high, or fast, or slow, it wouldn't have mattered.