GRAIL A and B are on their way to the Moon!
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla
10-09-2011 9:55 CDT
After some exasperating delays due to pesky and changeable high-level winds, the twin GRAIL spacecraft launched this morning on their trip to the Moon. Official launch time was 13:08:52.775 UTC on September 10, 2011. Go GRAIL!
About an hour and a half later, both spacecraft successfully separated from their launch vehicle, an event shown live on NASA TV thanks to a RocketCam!
Via Twitter I've learned that both spacecraft have deployed their solar panels and are producing power. Now they're on their way for a three-month cruise to the Moon via the Sun-Earth L2 point. The long cruise reduces the amount of fuel they need for lunar orbit insertion, and also allows the spacecraft to outgas before it has to perform its sensitive gravity measurements.
A special congratulations to Principal Investigator Maria Zuber and the whole science team, who can now get to work!
EDIT: Youtube video of both GRAILs separating:
Other related posts:
Fifteen years ago, Society members and passionate space advocates like you helped save the Pluto mission. Now we can do the same for missions to Europa and Mars.
Join over 27,600 people who have completed their petition and consider a donation to support advocacy efforts.