NASA's two lunar-bound spacecraft, vacuum-packed

May 20, 2011 By DC Agle
Technicians prepare to hoist one of the two Grail spacecraft upon completion of a thermal vacuum test at the Lockheed Martin Space Systems facility in Denver. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LMSS

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's two Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (Grail) spacecraft have completed all assembly and testing prior to shipment to Florida.

As seen in the photo, taken April 29, technicians installed lifting brackets prior to hoisting the 200-kilogram (440- pound) Grail-A spacecraft out of a vacuum chamber at , Denver. Along with its twin Grail-B, the Grail-A spacecraft underwent an 11-day-long test that simulated many of the flight activities they will perform during the mission, all while being exposed to the vacuum and extreme hot and cold that simulate space.

The Grail mission is scheduled for launch late this summer. The Grail-A and Grail-B spacecraft will fly in tandem orbits around Earth's moon for several months to measure its in unprecedented detail. The mission will also answer longstanding questions about the moon and provide scientists with a better understanding of how Earth and other in the solar system formed.

Explore further: New NASA Mission to Reveal Moon's Internal Structure and Evolution

Related Stories

GRAIL Spacecraft Takes Shape

July 29, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Engineers have conducted a fuel tank check of one of NASA's GRAIL mission spacecraft, scheduled for launch in 2011.

Juno marches on

March 23, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's Juno spacecraft has completed its thermal vacuum chamber testing. The two-week-long test, which concluded on March 13, 2011, is the longest the spacecraft will undergo prior to launch.

Recommended for you

At Saturn, one of these rings is not like the others

September 2, 2015

When the sun set on Saturn's rings in August 2009, scientists on NASA's Cassini mission were watching closely. It was the equinox—one of two times in the Saturnian year when the sun illuminates the planet's enormous ring ...

Prawn Nebula: Cosmic recycling

September 2, 2015

Dominating this image is part of the nebula Gum 56, illuminated by the hot bright young stars that were born within it. For millions of years stars have been created out of the gas in this nebula, material which is later ...

Comet Hitchhiker would take tour of small bodies

September 2, 2015

Catching a ride from one solar system body to another isn't easy. You have to figure out how to land your spacecraft safely and then get it on its way to the next destination. The landing part is especially tricky for asteroids ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.