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Clementine, a joint project between the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization and NASA, was launched on January 25, 1994 from Vandenburg Air Force Base aboard a Titan IIG rocket. Clementine was the first of a new class of spacecraft designed to enable long-duration, deep-space missions at reduced cost. Its principal objective was to qualify lightweight imaging sensors and component technologies for the next generation of spacecraft. Clementine's secondary mission was to make scientific observations of the Moon and the near-Earth asteroid 1620 Geographos. These observations included imaging at various wavelengths (e.g., ultraviolet and infrared), laser ranging altimetry, and charged particle measurements for the purposes of assessing the surface mineralogy of the Moon and Geographos, obtaining lunar altimetry from 60N to 60S latitude, and determining the size, shape, rotational characteristics, surface properties, and cratering statistics of Geographos.

After two Earth flybys, lunar insertion of Clementine was achieved on February 19, 1994. Mapping of the Lunar surface took place over a two month period in two systematic mapping passes over the Moon. The first part consisted of a five hour elliptical polar orbit with a perihelion of about 400 km at 28 degrees S latitude. After one month the orbit was rotated to 29 degrees N latitude, where it remained for the second month. These two orbital inclinations provided global imaging, as well as altimetry coverage from 60 degrees S to 60 degrees N.

After leaving lunar orbit, a malfunction in one of the on-board computers on May 7, 1994 caused one of the thruster to fire and continue to burn until it had depleted all of its fuel, leaving the spacecraft spinning at rate of about 80 RPM. Unfortunately, this made the continuation of the mission, a planned flyby of the near-Earth asteroid Geographos, impossible. However, the spacecraft remained in a geocentric orbit and testing the various spacecraft components continued until the end of mission.

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