GRACE-C Mission will succeed GRACE and GRACE-FO in measuring the Earth's gravity fieldGRACE-C Mission will succeed GRACE and GRACE-FO in measuring the Earth's gravity field
  • Airbus to Design and Build GRACE-C Spacecraft for NASA and DLR
  • GRACE-C Mission Continues Long-Standing US-German Partnership in Earth Observation

Friedrichshafen, Germany– In a landmark development for space exploration and Earth observation, Airbus has been entrusted with a prestigious contract by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to design and construct the GRACE-C twin spacecraft. This new venture reinforces the enduring partnership between the United States and Germany in monitoring the Earth’s gravity field, a collaboration that dates back to 2002 with the GRACE mission and the subsequent GRACE Follow-On in 2018.

The GRACE-C Mission (Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment-Continuity), commissioned jointly by NASA and the German Space Agency at the German Aerospace Center (DLR), aims for a nominal mission lifetime of five years. This mission is dedicated to advancing our understanding of the Earth’s vital signs. By observing month-to-month shifts in Earth’s groundwater, oceans, ice sheets, and land masses, GRACE-C will measure variations in the planet’s gravity field.

Each satellite in the GRACE-C pair will be roughly 3 x 2 x 1 meters in size and have a mass of around 600 kg. The twin spacecraft will orbit the Earth in tandem, maintaining a distance of approximately 200 km from each other, at an altitude of 500 km with an orbital inclination of 89 degrees. This strategic configuration is essential for the precise data collection required for this mission.

The anticipated launch of GRACE-C, slated for no earlier than late 2028, will be from the United States. This mission represents a significant stride in continuing the over 20-year legacy of international collaboration between the USA and Germany in space exploration and Earth science.

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By Lisa Luckas

Lisa Luckas is a Sr. Business News Editor at Nobot.News.

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