GRAIL twins together on their rocket
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla
18-08-2011 7:35 CDT
It's the first time I've ever seen anything like this -- two identical spacecraft, side by side on one launch adapter ring:
This morning the spacecraft pair, wrapped in plastic, were lifted to the top of their Delta II rocket:
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.