Press Release

NASA’s Gravity Probe B Arrives at Vandenburg AFB for Launch Preparations

By SpaceRef Editor
July 13, 2003
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NASA’s Gravity Probe B Arrives at Vandenburg AFB for Launch Preparations
gravity probe b

The NASA spacecraft designed to test two important predictions of Albert
Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity was shipped yesterday from the
Lockheed Martin Space Systems Facility in Sunnyvale, Calif., to the launch
site at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., after completing environmental

NASA’s Gravity Probe B mission, also known as GP-B, will use four
ultra-precise gyroscopes to test Einstein’s theory that space and time are
distorted by the presence of massive objects. To accomplish this, the
mission will measure two factors — how space and time are warped by the
presence of the Earth, and how the Earth’s rotation drags space-time around
with it.

Stanford University in Stanford, Calif., and Lockheed Martin performed the
testing. Shipped by road transport, the vehicle arrived July 10 at
Vandenberg for pre-launch operations in anticipation of a launch in late

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the GP-B
program. NASA’s prime contractor for the mission, Stanford University,
conceived the experiment and is responsible for the design and integration
of the science instrument, as well as for mission operations and data
analysis. Lockheed Martin, a major subcontractor, designed, integrated and
tested the spacecraft and some of its major payload components.

The erection of the Boeing Delta II launch vehicle on Space Launch Complex 2
(SLC-2) at Vandenberg Air Force Base is currently scheduled to begin on
September 15 with erection of the first stage. Attachment of the nine
strap-on solid rocket boosters is scheduled to occur in sets of three on
September 16 – 18. The second stage is planned for mating atop the first
stage on September 19. Gravity Probe B will be transported from the
spacecraft hangar to SLC-2 on October 29 and hoisted atop the second stage.
The Delta II fairing will be installed around the spacecraft on November 5,
part of final prelaunch preparations. The launch is the responsibility of
NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center in Florida.


Low- and hi-resolution JPEG image files of Gravity Probe B can be found at:

For more information on the Gravity Probe B mission,
see: and

SpaceRef staff editor.