NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite are set to lift off together aboard an Atlas V rocket today at 5:12 p.m. EDT. Two additional launch opportunities also are available at 5:22 p.m. and 5:32 p.m.
NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Spacecraft will fly to the moon atop the same Atlas V rocket, although they will use vastly different methods to study the lunar environment. LRO will go into orbit around the moon, turning its suite of instruments towards the moon for thorough studies. The spacecraft also will be looking for potential landing sites for astronauts.
LCROSS, on the other hand, will guide an empty upper stage on a collision course with a permanently shaded crater in an effort to kick up evidence of water at the moon's poles. LCROSS itself will also impact the lunar surface during its course of study.
Live coverage begins at 2 p.m. on NASA TV and up-to-the minute countdown milestones can be found on NASA's Launch Blog.