GRAIL moon twins are joined to their booster

Aug 18, 2011
NASA's twin Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecraft are lowered onto the second stage of their Delta II launch vehicle at Space Launch Complex 17B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida (8/18/2011). Image credit: NASA/KSC

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's lunar-bound GRAIL twins were mated to their Delta II launch vehicle at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Launch Complex 17 at 8:45 a.m. EDT (5:45 a.m. PDT) today. The 15-mile (25-kilometer) trip from Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Fla., is the last move for GRAIL before it begins its journey to the moon. NASA's dynamic duo will orbit the moon to determine the structure of the lunar interior from crust to core and to advance understanding of the thermal evolution of the moon.

"We are about to finish one chapter in the GRAIL story and open another," said Maria Zuber, GRAIL's principal investigator, based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. "Let me assure you this one is a real page-turner. GRAIL will rewrite the book on the formation of the moon and the beginning of us."

Now that the GRAIL spacecraft are atop their rocket, a final flurry of checks and tests can begin to confirm that all is go for launch. The final series of checks begins tomorrow, Aug. 19, with an on-pad functional test. The test is designed to confirm that the spacecraft is healthy after the fueling and transport operations. Next week, among all the upcoming final tests, reviews and closeout operations leading up to liftoff, the GRAIL team will install the launch vehicle fairing around the spacecraft.

GRAIL's launch period opens Sept. 8 and extends through Oct. 19. On each day, there are two separate instantaneous launch opportunities separated in time by approximately 39 minutes. On Sept. 8, the first launch opportunity is at 8:37 a.m. EDT (5:37 a.m. PDT). The second launch opportunity is 9:16 a.m. EDT (6:16 a.m. PDT).

Explore further: NASA deep-space rocket, SLS, to launch in 2018

More information: More information about GRAIL is online at: www.nasa.gov/grail

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

GRAIL launch less than one month away

Aug 12, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's twin lunar probes – GRAIL-A and GRAIL-B - completed their final inspections and were weighed one final time at the Astrotech Space Operations facility in Titusville, Fla., on Tuesday. ...

NASA's twin craft arrive in Florida for moon mission

May 24, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's twin lunar probes have arrived in Florida to begin final preparations for a launch in late summer. The two Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory spacecraft (Grail) were shipped from ...

Jupiter-bound Juno spacecraft mated to its rocket

Jul 28, 2011

NASA's Juno spacecraft completed its last significant terrestrial journey today, July 27, with a 15-mile (25-kilometer) trip from Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Fla., to its launch pad at the Cape ...

Dawn Arrives in Florida - A Little After Dawn

Apr 10, 2007

The Dawn spacecraft arrived at Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Fla., at 9 a.m. EDT today. Dawn, NASA's mission into the heart of the asteroid belt, is at the facility for final processing and launch ...

Jupiter-bound spacecraft arrives in Florida

Apr 11, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's Juno spacecraft has arrived in Florida to begin final preparations for a launch this summer. The spacecraft was shipped from Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, to the Astrotech ...

NASA administrator visits jupiter-Bound spacecraft

May 06, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA Administrator Charles Bolden visited NASA's Jupiter-bound Juno spacecraft on Thursday, May 5, 2011, at the Astrotech payload processing facility in Titusville, Fla. The solar-powered ...

Recommended for you

Light of life

20 hours ago

A fluorescent microscopic view of cells from a type of bone cancer, being studied for a future trip to deep space – aiming to sharpen our understanding of the hazardous radiation prevailing out there.

Local model better describes lunar gravity

Aug 27, 2014

Two satellites orbiting the Moon as a part of NASA's Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission have been mapping its inner structure by measuring subtle shifts in the pull of gravity on the ...

User comments : 0