Tuesday, September 27, 2016
European Space Agency launches SMART-1 2003
European Space Agency launched the Small Missions for Advanced Research in Technology (SMART-1) September 27, 2003. The spacecraft was small, only 1 meter in diameter and weighed 809lb, only 633lb was non-propellant. The first ESA probe to the moon, it used an ion propulsion system, using xenon ions to give it a specific thrust three times what conventional, chemical rockets can achieve.
On September 3, 2006, the probe was deliberately crashed onto the surface of the moon, adding more space junk to what the Soviets had been accumulating since 1959 and the US since 1962. Japan is a distant third with China and India following.