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Published on Sep 10, 2011
Video shot from Press Site #1 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. NASA's twin lunar Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecraft lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 9:08 a.m. EDT Saturday to study the moon in unprecedented detail.
The spacecraft were launched aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket. GRAIL mission controllers acquired a signal from GRAIL-A at 10:29 a.m. GRAIL-B's signal was eight minutes later. The telemetry downlinked from both spacecraft indicates they have deployed their solar panels and are operating as expected.
GRAIL-A is scheduled to reach the moon on New Year's Eve 2011, while GRAIL-B will arrive New Year's Day 2012. The two solar-powered spacecraft will fly in tandem orbits around the moon to measure its gravity field. GRAIL will answer longstanding questions about the moon and give scientists a better understanding of how Earth and other rocky planets in the solar system formed.