The NASA Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) mission launched on September 6, 2013 from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia and successfully entered lunar orbit on October 6. Applied Defense Solutions (ADS) has worked on the LADEE mission with NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California since 2008 supporting flight dynamics, software development, and mission operations.
ADS performed a variety of pre-launch mission analysis and planning, and developed techniques and procedures to be used in operations. ADS also developed and delivered the NASA Ames Flight Dynamics Systems (FDS) which is deployed in the Ames Multi-Mission Operations Center. LADEE was the first mission at Ames to operate with the Flight Dynamics System, which provides full mission operations functions for trajectory design; maneuver planning and reconstruction; engine calibration; attitude planning, product generation; and orbit determination.
ADS personnel were a critical part of the LADEE Mission Operations team in the flight dynamics group, known as the Trajectory, Orbit Determination, and Attitude (TAO) team. After months of simulations and rehearsals, ADS personnel contributed to all areas of flight dynamics in operations, as well as worked with the system engineers, scientists, and ground network engineers.
After LADEE hitched a perfect ride from the Minotaur V, the propulsion system allowed the phasing orbit maneuvers to align perfectly to capture the spacecraft into lunar orbit just as planned. Then the commissioning continued with a groundbreaking Lunar Laser Communications Demonstration (LLCD). Then LADEE operations team lowered the orbit to the science phase, where science collections and effective orbit-maintenance maneuvers continued to be performed. The team liked keeping the LDEX, NMS, and UVS scientists happy while staying fuel-efficient!
LADEE had three experiments and one demonstration: Ultraviolet and Visible light Spectrometer (UVS), Neutral Mass Spectrometer (NMS), Lunar Dust EXperiment (LDEX), and LLCD – all combined create complex and constrained planning conditions, particularly in terms of complex attitude profiles and tight orbit prediction accuracy requirements. The Ames Flight Dynamics System was designed to handle these complex conditions and requirements, and the LADEE Flight Dynamics Team at Ames was able to fly a successful mission. Finally, after the extended science phase ended, the mission ended with a planned lunar impact April 17, 2014.
The ADS LADEE team, led by John Carrico and Lisa Policastri, is proud to have been part of the LADEE team from the early mission concepts through to the end of mission operations, and excited to be celebrating in this success with the team of amazing people at NASA Ames!