At approximately 11:27 p.m. on Friday, September 6, NASA, Orbital Sciences and the Virginia Space Flight Authority launched the LADEE (Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer) Mission from Virginia’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) Pad OB at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.
The LADEE Mission accomplishes a number of firsts—it is the first deep space mission to launch from the Wallops Flight Facility, as well as the first payload to launch on the U.S. Air Force’s Minotaur V rocket. The Minotaur V launch vehicle was built by Virginia company Orbital Sciences.
The LADEE spacecraft was constructed using Modular Common Spacecraft Bus Architecture, representing a departure from custom design towards assembly production and multi-use design in order to reduce costs.
Upon completing three phasing orbits around the earth, the LADEE spacecraft will enter the moon’s orbit through a three-minute Lunar Orbit Insertion maneuver that involves firing the spacecraft’s onboard propellant for approximately three minutes.
After being captured by the moon’s gravitational field, LADEE will orbit around the moon for a 100-day science phase to collect data and study the lunar atmosphere. The moon’s atmosphere is classified as a surface boundary exosphere, a thin layer that is theorized to be the most common type of atmosphere in the universe.
Scientists hope to determine the density, composition and variability of the moon’s atmosphere, as well as learn more about the lunar dust environment. Knowledge gained through this mission can be extrapolated to the atmosphere of other planets, including Earth.
With another Antares mission
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’s public high school students as Virginia is only the third state in the nation to implement the Microsoft IT Academy Program. With an aggressive goal of full participation by the end of this school year, the program will support both students and teachers by making software and coursework available including everything from computer basics to programming to the opportunity to earn recognized Microsoft certifications.
Virginia is certainly no stranger to technology with the highest concentration of high-tech companies in the country according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Microsoft has demonstrated its understanding of Virginia’s pro-technology climate through the 2010 announcement of its investment of up to $499 million to locate its latest generation data center in Southern Virginia’s Mecklenburg County. This was followed by a recent announcement that the company would invest $150 million to expand this advanced data center and add 21 MW of electric power capacity.
The groundwork to attract Microsoft’s data center and support its educational offering for all Virginians was quite literally laid several years ago by the Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative. In an effort to support underserved rural areas in Southern Virginia, MBC established an 800 mile open-access, fiber-optic broadband network. While this advanced network has attracted a flurry of Gigaparks and technology companies to the former tobacco region, the network will also provide high-speed internet access to more than 100 schools in Southern Virginia through a federal broadband stimulus program.
Beginning this school year, students in two Southern Virginia counties have been equipped with high speed broadband for the first time. Jumping from 45 Mbps to 100 Mbps is a significant leap that allows students and teachers to take full advantage of the internet, specifically improving video streaming and online collaboration. Establishing high speed connectivity in rural areas like Southern Virginia sets the stage for Microsoft’s IT Academy to be successful. This will be truly be a statewide program, allowing students everywhere to take full advantage of Microsoft’s online resources in order to build the technical skills necessary to fuel Virginia’s booming IT industry.