Help Shape the Future of Space Exploration

Join The Planetary Society Now  arrow.png

Join our eNewsletter for updates & action alerts

    Please leave this field empty

Headshot of Emily Lakdawalla

GRAIL twins together on their rocket

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla

18-08-2011 7:35 CDT

Topics: GRAIL, mission status, rockets

It's the first time I've ever seen anything like this -- two identical spacecraft, side by side on one launch adapter ring:

Twin GRAIL spacecraft preparing for launch

NASA / Jim Grossmann

Twin GRAIL spacecraft preparing for launch
The twin Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) lunar spacecraft are attached to the spacecraft adapter ring in their launch configuration in Astrotech Space Operation's payload processing facility in Titusville, Florida, on August 10, 2011.

This morning the spacecraft pair, wrapped in plastic, were lifted to the top of their Delta II rocket:

The GRAIL twins meet their rocket

NASA / Kim Shiflett

The GRAIL twins meet their rocket
The twin Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecraft are lifted to the top of their launch pad at Space Launch Complex 17B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on August 18, 2011.

GRAIL's launch period opens Thursday, September 8, and extends through October 19. For a September 8 liftoff, there are two possible launch times, at 12:37 and 13:16 UTC (5:37 and 6:16 a.m. PDT). That'd give me just enough time to get my daughter delivered to her first day of kindergarten! This will be a brief mission: after a three- to four- month cruise, they will operate in lunar orbit for 90 days.

Just a brief post today -- I'm working on a doozy of a post for tomorrow.EDIT: It's been pointed out to me by approximately a bazillion people that GRAIL is launching on a Delta II, not the long-retired Titan II, which is what the NASA press release said. Also, that the NASA press release erroneously states that the window is open for 40 minutes, when in fact there are two instantaneous launch windows separated by 40 minutes.

See other posts from August 2011


Or read more blog entries about: GRAIL, mission status, rockets


Leave a Comment:

You must be logged in to submit a comment. Log in now.
Facebook Twitter Email RSS AddThis

Blog Search

Planetary Defense

An asteroid or comet headed for Earth is the only large-scale natural disaster we can prevent. Working together to fund our Shoemaker NEO Grants for astronomers, we can help save the world.


Featured Images

SpaceX CRS-8 landed booster
SES-10 static test fire
More Images

Featured Video

Class 9: Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune

Watch Now

Space in Images

Pretty pictures and
awe-inspiring science.

See More

Join The Planetary Society

Let’s explore the cosmos together!

Become a Member

Connect With Us

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more…
Continue the conversation with our online community!