6 Years after Project start (and many more after first discussions on the successor to the GRACE mission), The US-German Gravity mission GRACE Follow-On will finally launch! It will continue the GRACE success story and flies the first inter-satellite laser interferometer, which may be seen as a LISA technology pathfinder.
Artists impression of GRACE Follow-On [Credit:NASA]
The launch is scheduled for Tuesday 22nd of May, between 21:30 and 23:30 German time. It will be launched with a Falcon-9 rocket of Space-X from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.
The launch will have a live coverage from JPL, accessable via:
(the Pre-launch briefing will also be streamed under the above link, monday 21st 19:30 German time)
STI has significantly contributed to GRACE Follow-On, namely we where responsible for:
- the Gerrman contribution of the laser ranging interferometer (the optical bench, the retroreflector and the instrument baffles)
- the LRI instrument integration @ STI facitlities in cooperation with JPL, DLR, Airbus DS and AEI
- the spacecraft primary structures (structural analysis and procurement)
- the ASTSS tertiary structure (manufactured by CST)
- the deployable S-Band boom
- the Coarse Earth-Sun-Sensors (CESS)
- the satellite MGSE & transport containers
We did this in contract to the Geoforschungszentrum Potsdam (GFZ) for the LRI (and under the scientific lead of Albert Einstein Institute Hannover - AEI) and in subcontract to Airbus DS for the other contributions. On the US side we had a close cooperation with JPL who where responsible for the mission and provided the US part of the LRI (the laser, the cavity & the phasemeter).
STI is proud to be part of this mission and thankful for the great cooperation of all project partners!
Much more information on GRACE Follow-On can be found here: