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NASA Set to Launch Moon Probe

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The U.S. space agency is preparing to return to the moon.

An unmanned rocket is scheduled to blast off late Friday from Virginia's Eastern Shore with a robotic explorer that will study the lunar atmosphere and dust.

The Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer, known as LADEE, is the size of a small car, and it will collect data for 100 days as it orbits our moon.

Scientists want to learn more about the moon's thin atmosphere because they think it could be common in our solar system. That knowledge could help them better understand large asteroids and other planets, including Mercury.

Most of NASA's previous lunar missions were launched from Florida. Ths first moonshot from Virginia will be visible over a large area of the eastern United States - home to well over 50 million people.

The LADEE capsule will have no way to return from lunar orbit, so the U.S. space agency intends to aim spacecraft into a controlled crash on the surface of the moon.

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People make their way into Terminal A at Mineta San Jose International Airport near the Hawaiian Airlines gates, April 21, 2014, in San Jose, Calif.

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