NASA's New Moon Missions Hope To Crash And Burn

Don't be too concerned when you hear that latest NASA launch has crashed into the surface of the moon; it doesn't mean that everything's gone wrong. The entire point of one of the two missions is to do just that.

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (abbreviated as LRO and LCROSS, respectively) launched yesterday from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, beginning their journey to the moon. While the LRO will spend years in orbit around the moon, mapping it with greater precision than ever before, the LCROSS will remain in space just a few months before launching itself at the moon's south pole in the hopes of excavating areas of pole that, when thawed by sunlight, could contain water necessary if man was to spend long periods of time on the moon.

Both missions are part of a process aimed at establishing potential moon settlements for humanity... or, at the very least, finding new and inventive ways of spending $580 million of taxpayer money.

Lunar probe launches on collision course with moon [New Scientist]