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[b]United Launch Alliance Successfully Launches GRAIL Moon Mission for NASA on Final Flight from Space Launch Complex 17[/b]
A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta II rocket carrying the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecraft for NASA lifted off from Space Launch Complex (SLC)-17B here at 9:08 a.m. EDT today. This launch marks the 9th flight for ULA in 2011, the 49th Delta II mission for NASA and the last currently-planned flight from this launch complex.
"With the final launch from SLC-17, we reflect on the tremendous historical significance of this complex and the impact of the military and scientific payloads that began their missions from this site," said Michael Gass, ULA president and CEO. "From the Global Positioning System satellites launched for the U.S. Air Force, to NASA's Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity, in total this complex has been the origin for 259 critical Delta missions to protect our country and explore our universe."
The GRAIL mission was launched aboard a Delta II Heavy 7920H-10 configuration vehicle featuring a ULA first stage booster powered by a Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne RS-27A main engine and nine Alliant Techsystems (ATK) strap-on solid rocket motors. An Aerojet AJ10-118K engine powered the second stage. The payload was encased by a 10-foot-diameter composite payload fairing.
"ULA is extremely proud to be a part of NASA's team for the GRAIL mission and we sincerely congratulate all of our mission partners," said Jim Sponnick, ULA vice president, Mission Operations. "Today's successful launch is the third NASA mission ULA has launched in just three months with two more to come in October and November. The timing and precision of this campaign along with a one-launch-at-a-time focus are testaments to our commitment to providing reliable and cost-effective space launch services to our customers."
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