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NASA Sets GRAIL/Delta II Launch Coverage Events


CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA’s GRAIL spacecraft is set to launch to the moon aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket on Sept. 8, 2011 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS), Fla.

There are two instantaneous (1 sec.) launch windows at 8:37:06 a.m. and 9:16:12 a.m. EDT. The launch period, the last for Delta IIs at the Cape, extends through Oct. 19. The launch times occur approximately four minutes earlier each day.

GRAIL’s primary science objectives are to determine the structure of the lunar interior, from crust to core, and to advance understanding of the thermal evolution of the moon.

GRAIL Prelaunch News Conference

A prelaunch news conference will be at NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Press Site on Tuesday, Sept. 6, at 1 p.m. Participating in the briefing:
-- Ed Weiler, associate administrator, Science Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters, Washington
-- Tim Dunn, NASA launch director, Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Fla.
-- Vernon Thorp, program manager, NASA Missions, United Launch Alliance, Denver
-- David Lehman, GRAIL project manager, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, Calif.
-- John Henk, GRAIL program manager, Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver.
-- Joel Tumbiolo, launch weather officer, 45th Weather Squadron, CCAFS

GRAIL Mission Science Briefing

A GRAIL mission science briefing will be at Kennedy’s Press Site on Wednesday, Sept. 7 at 10 a.m. Participating in the briefing:
-- Robert Fogel, GRAIL program scientist, NASA Headquarters, Washington
-- Maria Zuber, GRAIL principal investigator, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge
-- Sami Asmar, GRAIL deputy project scientist, JPL
-- Sally Ride, president and CEO, Sally Ride Science, San Diego

Accreditation & Media Access Badges for Kennedy Space Center

To cover the GRAIL prelaunch news conference, mission science briefing and the launch, media must complete the online accreditation process at:

Accreditation for foreign journalists must be received by Sunday, Aug. 28. U.S. media must apply by Monday, Sept. 5. Media may obtain their NASA access badge at the Kennedy Space Center Badging Office located near Gate 3 on State Road 405, just past the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

Two forms of government issued identification, one with photo, will be required in order to receive an access badge for Kennedy to cover the prelaunch news conference and the launch. Badges will be available for pick-up beginning Sept. 6. The Kennedy Space Center Badging Office hours of operation are 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Delta II Mobile Service Tower Rollback

Sept. 7: There will be a media opportunity at CCAFS Pad 17B to observe rollback of the mobile service tower from the Delta II rocket. Media should meet in the parking lot of CCAFS Gate 1 Pass & Identification Building at 9:30 p.m. for transportation by government bus to the viewing location at the launch pad.

Remote Camera Placement at Launch Complex 17

Sept. 7: Photographers who wish to set up remote sound-activated cameras at the launch pad should meet in the parking lot of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Gate 1 Pass & Identification Building at 9:45 a.m.

Launch Day Press Site Access

Sept. 8: Media will cover the GRAIL launch from Press Site 1 at CCAFS. Media must arrive at Kennedy’s Press Site by 6 a.m. for transportation to the viewing site.

Kennedy Press Site Hours
Tuesday, Sept. 6: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Sept 7: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 8: 5:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

NASA Television Coverage

NASA Television will carry the GRAIL prelaunch news conference beginning at 1 p.m. on Sept. 6 and the GRAIL mission science briefing on Sept. 7 at 10 a.m.

On Sept. 8, NASA Television coverage of the launch will begin at 6 a.m. and conclude after spacecraft separation from the Delta II approximately 58 minutes and 45 seconds after launch. Live launch coverage will be carried on all NASA Television channels and on the agency’s website.

A post-launch news conference will be held at Kennedy’s Press Site after launch. (Time TBD) A post-launch news release also will be issued when health of GRAIL is determined. NASA personnel will be available at the Press Site to answer questions and for interviews.

For NASA Television downlink, schedule and streaming video information, visit:

Audio only of the news conferences and the launch coverage will be carried on the NASA “V” circuits at: 321-867-1220/1240/1260/7135. On launch day, “mission audio,” the launch conductor’s countdown activities without NASA TV launch commentary, will be carried on 321-867-7135 starting at 6 a.m. Launch will also be available on local amateur VHF radio frequency 146.940 MHz heard within Brevard County.

NASA Web Pre-launch & Launch Coverage

For extensive pre-launch and launch day coverage of the GRAIL spacecraft, visit:

A prelaunch webcast for the GRAIL mission will be streamed on Wednesday, Sept. 7, at noon. Live countdown coverage through NASA’s Launch Blog begins at 6:30 a.m. on Sept. 8. Coverage features live updates as countdown milestones occur, as well as streaming video clips highlighting launch preparations and liftoff.

To view the webcast and the blog or to learn more about the GRAIL mission, visit the mission home page at: and

To view live interviews with lunar scientists during the NASA Scientists in Action webcast, visit:

The NASA News Twitter feed will be updated throughout the launch countdown. To access the NASA News Twitter feed, visit:

Recorded Status

Recorded status reports on the launch of GRAIL and updates to the media advisory will be provided on the Kennedy media phone line starting Tuesday, Sept. 6. The telephone number is 321-867-2525.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., manages the GRAIL mission for the principal investigator, Maria Zuber. The GRAIL mission is part of the New Frontiers Program managed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the spacecraft. Launch management for the mission is the responsibility of NASA’s Launch Services Program at Kennedy.

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