NASA Launches Unmanned Moon Shot, First In Decade

Friday, June 19th 2009, 6:54 am
By: News On 6

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) - NASA has launched its first moon shot in a decade.

An unmanned rocket blasted off Thursday from Cape Canaveral, carrying a pair of science probes that will scout out potential landing spots for astronauts. It's a first step in NASA's effort to return humans to the moon by 2020.

One probe will orbit the moon and provide a 3-D relief map of the lunar surface. The other satellite will drop its spent upper-stage rocket into a shadowed crater at the moon's south pole. This satellite will measure the matter that's kicked up, send the data to Earth, then also crash into the surface. The goal is to determine if frozen water is present.

The launch occurred one month shy of the 40th anniversary of the first lunar footprints.

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