The LRO spacecraft was built by engineers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. It was then put through extensive testing. The orbiter was subjected to the extreme temperature cycles of the lunar environment as engineers conducted simulated flight operations. "We have cooked LRO, frozen it, shaken it, and blasted it with electromagnetic waves, and still it operates," said Dave Everett, LRO mission system engineer at Goddard. "We have performed more than 2,500 hours of powered testing since January."
Using the thermal vacuum chamber, enginers confirm that all components properly operate over a range of temperatures and in vacuum. By varying the temperature of the walls around the spacecraft to simulate the hot moon, the cold moon, deep space, or sunlight, engineers measure the Orbiter temperature in different locations to observe the heat flow through the system.
Engineers deployed the solar array during the summer of 2008 on a Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) test model and under the duress of gravity. Later, the flight hardware was integrated, tested and deployed in the White House clean room at Goodard Space Flight Center.
The Laser Ranging System is designed to measure the distance to the LRO spacecraft using laser pulses sent from Earth. The laser pulses are received by a small telescope attached to the High Gain Antenna and transferred via fiber optic bundle to the LOLA istrument where the pulses are detected. Sometimes, the laser pulses will arrive at the telescope from a slight angle. The Laser Ranging Telescope needs to be able to see these off-axis pulses. Engineers test the telescope by rotating it in front of a light source to make sure the telescope's field of view is wide enough to pick up those laser pulses.