A Travellerspoint blog


What it is all about

Two small spacecraft flew to the Kennedy Space Center in the belly of an Air Force cargo plane Friday, ready to start final preparations for launch to the moon in September.

Technicians prepare to hoist the two GRAIL spacecraft out of a vacuum chamber in April. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Lockheed Martin

The Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory, or GRAIL, mission is scheduled to blast off Sept. 8 on a Delta 2 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

GRAIL's two nearly identical spacecraft flew on a U.S. Air Force cargo plane from Lockheed Martin Corp. in Denver to Kennedy Space Center's space shuttle landing strip Friday, then the probes were moved to a nearby clean room facility.

Workers will complete assembly of the GRAIL probes, fuel the spacecraft and place the satellites on top of the Delta 2 launch vehicle over the next three months.

Each GRAIL spacecraft is about the size of a washing machine and will weigh about 440 pounds at liftoff.

The mission's Delta 2 rocket is fully stacked on Complex 17B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The rocket will fly in the 7920-Heavy configuration with nine 46-inch-diameter solid rocket boosters.

Liftoff is expected Sept. 8 at 8:37 a.m. EDT (1237 GMT). After receiving a boost into space, the GRAIL spacecraft will be on a low-energy trajectory to the L1 Lagrange point, the location in deep space where gravity from the sun and Earth exert equal influence.

The Delta 2 rocket's first stage and solid rocket boosters were stacked on the launch pad in April.. Credit: NASA/KSC

The probes will approach the moon under the south pole, each executing a one-hour rocket burn to enter lunar orbit Dec. 31 and Jan. 1. More engine firings will place the spacecraft in a 30-mile-high orbit as the satellites drift more than 100 miles apart during a three-month science mission.

GRAIL's mission design is based on the similar GRACE project, which continues flying two satellites in formation in Earth orbit to precisely measure gravity.

A Ka-band ranging system will keep track of the distance between the GRAIL satellites, detecting slight changes in their orbits to study variations in the lunar gravity field.

GRAIL's discoveries will help researchers determine the structure of the lunar interior and advance the understanding of the thermal evolution of the moon, according to scientists. GRAIL will also search for evidence of a solid core inside the moon's liquid core.

Data from the moon will give scientists a clearer picture of how Earth and other rocky planets formed in the early solar system, according to NASA.

Led by principal investigator Maria Zuber of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, NASA says the GRAIL mission will improve knowledge of the moon's near-side gravity by 100 times and of far-side gravity by 1,000 times.

GRAIL also carries a camera suite called MoonKAM to give middle school students the chance to take their own pictures of the moon from lunar orbit.

Once its data-collecting phase is complete in the summer of 2012, NASA will command the GRAIL probes to impact the moon.

Posted by Fidget 15:21 Comments (0)

1st Draft of My Itinerary

Gaps will be filled as I arrange things.

Last night I had a change in plans, I decided that I would go back to Orlando after NASA instead of Hollywood Beach. While I am in FLorida I want to do a few things I cannot do at home.
I can sit on the beach at home so thought what have I always wanted to do - Swim with dolphins. So it is all arranged that is what I am going to do!!
I have booked a great hotel with fab reviews that also has a decent pool for me to laze at when I can!
The trip seems to be coming together.

The other attendees and myself are getting to know each other via our Facebook Group. We are going to have some amount of fun once all together. What a great bunch of people. They are all from various backgrounds and different experts in their own field!

So anyway this is what I have planned and booked so far, I will do a final version before I depart:

4th September

Flight number BA0207
From Heathrow (London) Terminal 5
To Miami International (FL)
Depart 4 Sep 2011 11:05
Arrive 4 Sep 2011 15:15

Connect then on:

American Airlines 1302 MIAMI INTERNTNL SUN 04SEP

Taxi to hotel:

Hotel Name:
The Florida Hotel & Conference Center, Orlando
Arrival Date:
04 September 2011
No. Nights:

5th September:

Shopping in the Mall and sit by the pool.

Dinner at night with Shelley from NASA

6th September:

Collected from hotel by Erin (Another NASA attendee) driven to Cocoa Beach Townhouse

(Unit 101 (The Town House) at 3800 Ocean Beach Blvd. , Cocoa Beach , FL 32931)

NASA between 15:00-17:00 to collect out I.D's

19:00 Dinner at Dixies Seafood restaurant with 30 other NASA attendees

7th September:

NASA from 08:00 until 17:00 (Can't wait to see what is planned by NASA)!

Provisionally housemates are going to "The Irish Bar" in evening! NO idea what else is planned as yet!

8th September:

05:30 NASA to prepare for launch at 08:37. Watch launch then leave NASA in afternoon
GRAIL (Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory)
Location: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, USA, Planet Earth.
Time: Thursday, 08 September 2011 05:30


The locals lay on an "Endless BBQ" for attendees of the Tweetups!

#endlessBBQ v4.0 for theGRAIL launch is going to happen. The event will be held at the Cocoa Beach Brewing Company- we get to use their new deck , and we look forward to seeing all of you GRAIL #NASATweetup-ers

9th September: No idea (Hopefully a lazy day by the pool)!! - Nope now looks like the housemates are going to Universal OMG!!!

10th September: Lift to hotel on International Drive from one of the attendees

Hotel Radisson Hotel Orlando-International Drive
Address 8444 International Drive
Orlando (Florida), FL 32819
United States of America

11th September:

Discovery Cove for the day to swim with Dolphins - A couple of others are coming as well with me

12th September:


13th September:

Shopping in Malls

14th September:

Pack and Taxi to airport

American Airlines 2047 ORLANDO INTL WED 14SEP

Connecting onto the below flight

Flight number BA0208
From Miami International (FL)
To Heathrow (London)
Depart 14 Sep 2011 20:40
Arrive 15 Sep 2011 10:00

15th September:

Arrive LHR @ 10:00

Home to Hayling Island

Posted by Fidget 10:53 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Preparation for my trip.

So much to be done!

I didn't realise there was so much to do to plan my trip.

Sort travel
Organise transport
Book hotels
Decide where I want to go
Look at the internet to see what I want to do
Book and arrange the shared Condo for 10 of us for the NASA part of the trip!
Then there is everything to work out while I am away.
Jordan to Mava's
Someone to come stay with the cats
How best to keep in communication with everyone

That is just to name a few things!

Hence why I decided to set this travel blog up. This way friends and family can see where I am and what I am doing day by day.
My route is mapped out on the map, I will just need to add dates etc.

Day before yesterday we finalised the condo on Cocoa Beach - 10 of us are sharing it. This is where I will be based for 4 nights whilst I am at Kennedy Space Centre (KSC). The people sharing are Sabrina, Jason, Erin, Chris, Vanessa, Matt, Sierra, Garrett, Melissa and myself! Jason has "Googled" it even found there is an Irish pub round the corner.... In his words "within stumbling reach"! We have given our house a name like some of the other shared houses has done..... Our house is called "The Launchpad".

Michael another Tweeter, has suggested we all make tin foil hats and wear them out to dinner the first night and see who has made the best one.... Oh My God.... I thought I was away from the tin foil brigade! I told Samantha about it today over coffee and she could not stop laughing!

Another plan that has been made is we are all going for dinner to "Dixie's Seafood Restaurant" on the night of the 6th. Michael is buying the cocktails. There are even nominated drivers for the night! Times like this I am alighted that I am not hiring a car.

Yesterday I booked my hotel for the first 2 nights. It is right beside the shopping malls... Sounds like heaven. This will be the only time I will see the BIG, LARGE, WONDERFUL Shops!! It looks amazing. I will post pictures once I am there. I will also add a link to their website so you get a good insight.

Posted by Fidget 06:18 Comments (2)

(Entries 11 - 13 of 13) « Page 1 [2]