Remembering Clementine’s Lunar Orbit Insertion

30 years ago yesterday, the Deep Space Program Science Experiment spacecraft, dubbed “Clementine,” entered lunar orbit after executing the Lunar Orbit Insertion (LOI) maneuver to place it into a 426.9 km x 5485.1 km orbit, with an orbit period of 8 hours.

Originally launched on a Titan II(23)G rocket from Vandenberg Air force Base launch site SLC-4W on January 25, 1994, the spacecraft used an R-4D 490 Newton engine to perform the insertion. The R4D used bipropellant hydrazine (N2O4/MMH) with an Isp of 310 sec.

The LOI maneuver was planned using the software tool “Swingby” at Goddard Space Flight Center. SEE founder, Astrogator John Carrico, was on the team that both developed Swingby and used it for maneuver planning on the Clementine mission. Swingby eventually evolved into the STK/Astrogator trajectory planning tool.

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Dr. Worden was Director of NASA Ames during both the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) and Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) Missions. LCROSS launched in 2009. LADEE launched in 2013. The SEE team supported both of these missions.