NRL Donates Clementine Spacecraft to National Air and Space Museum


The Naval Research Laboratory has donated the engineering model of the Clementine satellite for display at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. Clementine is known for taking approximately two million photographs of the moon's surface during the 1990s. The display of the engineering model of the satellite is being marked with a ceremony to be held on Wednesday, January 22 at 7:00 pm.

Clementine was developed by NRL as a project jointly sponsored by NASA and the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization. It was launched in January 1994 to space qualify lightweight imaging sensors and component technologies for the next generation of Department of Defense spacecraft. The images returned by Clementine were the first high-resolution images of the moon collected since the Apollo lunar landing in 1972. In addition to taking several million photos of the moon, Clementine was significant in finding evidence of water on the lunar surface.

Clementine was a "fast-track" program from its inception. The work on the spacecraft was completed in just 22 months, less than half the time usually required to build a spacecraft like Clementine. And with the spacecraft and launch vehicle costing $75 million, it was built for about one-fifth the usual cost. The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory developed the sensor suite used in the spacecraft and other federal agencies provided support. Clementine showed the capability of the national laboratories, working with DoD, NASA, industry and international space organization, to integrate, execute and operate meaningful space missions at low cost.

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