Image Credit: NASA Ames/Dana Berry
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) launched the LADEE spacecraft on a Minotaur V vehicle during a five-day launch period that started on September 6, 2013. The LADEE mission is divided into mission phases: Launch, Ascent, Activation and Checkout, Phasing Orbits, Lunar Orbit Insertion, Commissioning, Science, and Decommissioning.
South African National Space Agency (SANSA) has been supporting the mission as of the launch date. The SANSA Space Operations directorate was contracted by the Swedish Space Corporation (SSC) to support what promises to be NASA grand mission to the moon. "Our facilities, the technical knowledge and our team's years of expertise in supporting missions of such magnitude are what attracted NASA to us. We also have a 12 metre antenna that's much bigger than the ones usually used as the size of the antenna creates more gain and reduces the risk of the mission. Our location in the Southern Hemisphere also plays in our favour on this mission," explains Tiaan Strydom, Business Development Manager at SANSA Space Operations.