Building the LRO Spacecraft

The spacecraft was built by engineers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. It was then put through extensive testing. The orbiter was subjected to the extreme temperature cycles of the lunar environment as engineers conducted simulated flight operations. "We have cooked LRO, frozen it, shaken it, and blasted it with electromagnetic waves, and still it operates," said Dave Everett, LRO mission system engineer at Goddard. "We have performed more than 2,500 hours of powered testing since January."

RRM Multifunction Tool
RRM Multifunction Tool
RRM Multifunction Tool

Spacecraft Specs

  • One year primary mission in ~50 km polar orbit, possible extended mission in communication relay/south pole observing, low-maintenance orbit
  • LRO Total Mass ~ 1000 kg/400 W
  • 100 kg/100W payload capacity
  • 3-axis stabilized pointed platform (~ 60 arc-sec or better pointing)
  • Articulated solar arrays and Li-Ion battery
  • Spacecraft to provide thermal control services to payload elements if req'd
  • Ka-band high rate downlink ( 100-300 Mbps, 900 Gb/day), S-band up/down low rate
  • Centralized Mission Operations Center flows level spacecraft data to the individual instrument Science Operations Centers, where the data are processed, calibrated and higher level data products (such as maps) are created.
  • Command & Data Handling : MIL-STD-1553, RS 422, & High Speed Serial Service, PowerPC Architecture, 200-400 Gb SSR, CCSDS
  • Mono or bi-prop propulsion (500-700 kg fuel)
NASA logo Goddard Space Flight Center


NASA Official : Noah Petro
Web Curator : Jennifer Brill