WASHINGTON, Sept. 7 (Xinhua) -- U.S. space agency NASA said Saturday its moon probe was now "healthy" after engineers fixed mechanical problems it encountered shortly after Friday night's launch.
Although NASA described the launch of the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) as being successful, the small car-sized spacecraft commanded itself to shut down the reaction wheels, used to position and stabilize the spacecraft, after its separation from the rocket.
On Saturday afternoon, NASA determined this as the result of fault protection limits put in place prior to launch to safeguard the reaction wheels, saying that engineers have since disabled the limits that caused the powering off soon after activation and will selectively re-enable them.
"Our engineers will determine the appropriate means of managing the reaction wheel fault protection program. Answers will be developed over time and will not hold up checkout activities," said Butler Hine, LADEE project manager.
"The reaction wheel issue noted soon after launch was resolved a few hours later. The LADEE spacecraft is healthy and communicating with mission operators," said Pete Worden, director of NASA's Ames Research Center, which is leading the LADEE mission.
The LADEE was now "on a perfect trajectory" to arrive at Earth' s nearest neighbor in 30 days, NASA said.
The 280-million-U.S.-dollar spacecraft is expected to spend about 100 days exploring moon's atmosphere and the role of dust in the lunar sky before running out of fuel and crashing into the moon's surface.