If all goes according to plan, two spacecraft will launch en route to the moon next week. Though this summer marks the 40th anniversary of the first Apollo moon landings, the new launches will be of unmanned vehicles -- and, rather than landing gently on the Sea of Tranquility, parts of one of the missions involve planned violent collisions with the lunar surface.
Both the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCrOSS) are scheduled to launch on one rocket on June 17th. Once in space, the two craft will part ways. The LRO is a mapping satellite, aimed at imaging the lunar surface to find potential landing sites, locate potential resources, and characterize the radiation environment. The LCROSS mission is a search for water on the moon. We'll get an update on both missions.
Produced by Christopher Intagliata, Associate Senior Producer