Mar 14 2015

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One of my bubbas at KinetX Aerospace gave me an update on MESSENGER that I don’t think I’ve seen elsewhere. KinetX provides the mission navigators for both MESSENGER and for New Horizons, and fly deep space missions so efficiently that there is often fuel left over to extend missions or do new stuff.

I knew MESSENGER was going to crash into Mercury as its final act. However, what I just found out on Thursday is that KinetX is going to have MESSENGER drop down to 5 Km of altitude for super-high resolution imagery and sensing. They’re not just going to do it once, but three separate times, raising it to a higher altitude to change its orbital location on the next 5 km pass. After the 3rd close pass, THEN they’ll allow MESSENGER to crash onto the surface. MESSENGER is literally running on fumes, so the fact they can do all this with almost no delta-V left in the tanks is amazing.

I know these guys…it wouldn’t surprise me if they had at least one further trick up their sleeve…but I’ll need to fish around first to see if my hunch is correct.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.newspaceraces.com/2015/03/14/update-on-messenger/

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