Feature

Centaur Separation
10.08.09
 
centaur separation
Image of the centaur separation as viewed from the mid infrared camera.
Credit: NASA
Click for full resolution.

centaur separation
Image of the centaur separation as viewed from the mid infrared camera.
Credit: NASA
Click for full resolution.

STK (satellite toolkit) image of the LCROSS spacecraft after centaur separation.
STK (satellite toolkit) image of the LCROSS spacecraft after centaur separation.
Credit: NASA
Click for full resolution.

At 6:50 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 8 the LCROSS shepherding spacecraft successfully separated from the Centaur that has been attached to since early June 2009, when the LCROSS and LRO were stacked at Space Launch Complex 41, a few days before launch from Cape Canaveral. After the separation sequence was initiated, sensors attached to three break wires indicated a successful separation.

After the separation, the LCROSS shepherding spacecraft completed a 180 degree flip maneuver and powered up the science payload to watch the Centaur steadily increase the distance between them. Mission operations then commanded the spacecraft to perform a breaking burn to create a separation distance of 600 km from the Centaur, This was determined by the science team as the optimal distance to view the Centaur on the surface of the moon.

View a video of the Centaur separation.