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01-Apr-06 | LRO outgrows Delta

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, heading for the Moon in 2008, will do so on an EELV (either Atlas V or Delta IV) rather than a three-stage Delta II 7925 as originally planned. Associate Administrator Scott Horowitz was quoted as saying the change was made “to avoid stability problems with [Delta II’s] spinning second stage, growing out of the heavy fuel load needed to get to the Moon.” Note that it is in fact Delta’s solid-fuelled third stage that requires spin stabilization. In any case, the increased payload capacity of an EELV means LRO may receive an upgraded sensor package, or perhaps even an impactor probe. (Lunar Enterprise Daily, 13-Jan-06)

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