NASA aims to launch a mission to the moon this week but stormy weather could conspire to keep a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket on the ground.
The 125-foot Delta II Heavy is scheduled to blast off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Launch Complex 17B at 8:37 a.m. Thursday. A second chance would come at 9:16 a.m. if need be.
Nestled atop the rocket: NASA's twin GRAIL spacecraft. The mirror-image satellites will map the gravitational field of the moon during an 82-day science campaign next spring. They are due to arrive at the moon on Dec 31 and Jan. 1 after a low-energy approach to Earth's sole natural satellite.
The weather forecast for launch is a bit iffy. It calls for a 60-percent chance that thunderstorms or electrically charged clouds would keep the rocket grounded either Thursday or Friday.
Check out the OFFICIAL FORECAST produced by the Air Force 45th Space Wing Weather Squadron.
The official NASA Press Kit is HERE.
A mission summary is HERE.
A NASA Fact Sheet is HERE.
ABOUT THE IMAGE: CLICK to enlarge this NASA image of a clam-shell-shaped nosecone being wrapped around NASA's twin GRAIL spacecraft, which are scheduled to launch Thursday on a United Launch Alliance Delta II Heavy rocket at Launch Complex 17B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station You can also click the enlarged image to get a bigger, more detailed view. Photo credit: NASA/Jim Grossmann.