NASA is preparing to launch a new spacecraft to the moon, the first launch beyond Earth's orbit to take place from its facility at Wallops Island -- less than 200 miles from Washington, D.C. -- on Virginia’s Atlantic coast, at 11:27 p.m. EDT on Sept. 6.

Named as Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer, or LADEE, the small car-sized spacecraft is expected to gather detailed information about the structure and composition of the moon’s thin atmosphere, and determine if dust is being lofted into the lunar sky.