Clementine was built by the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C. to test lightweight instruments and components for the next generation of spacecraft. It was designed to complete a two-month mapping mission in orbit around the Moon and then fly past an asteroid. Like the miner's daughter in the song, "My Darlin' Clementine," its instruments would help determine the mineral content of these objects and then be "lost and gone forever." Remarkably, Clementine went from the drawing board and into space in less than two years with a cost of under 100 million dollars, thus introducing the era of "faster, better, cheaper" spacecraft. Although its attempt at flying past an asteroid failed, Clementine provided answers to many of the questions about the Moon that remained from the Apollo era of lunar exploration.
This engineering model was transferred from the Naval Research Laboratory to the Museum in 2002.
Gift of The Naval Research Laboratory.