Kennedy News

George H. Diller
Kennedy Space Center
(321) 867-2468

Nov. 3, 2003
RELEASE : 89-03
Note to Editors/News Directors:
Gravity Probe B Spacecraft Press Opportunity November 10
Gravity Probe B, a relativity experiment developed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, Stanford University and Lockheed Martin will be available for the news media to see and photograph on Monday, Nov. 10. Gravity Probe B arrived on July 11 at NASA spacecraft facility 1610 located on north Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., and now is nearing the completion of its preparations for launch on Dec. 6.

The Gravity Probe B spacecraft will test two extraordinary predictions of Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity that he advanced in 1916: the geodetic effect (how space and time are warped by the presence of the Earth) and frame dragging (how Earth's rotation drags space and time around with it).

Gravity Probe B consists of four sophisticated gyroscopes that will provide an almost perfect space-time reference system. The mission will look in a precision manner for tiny changes in the direction of the spin.

The spacecraft will be launched into a 400-nautical-mile-high polar orbit for an 18-month mission.

Spokespersons available at the Gravity Probe B press opportunity will be:

Rex Geveden, Gravity Probe B Project Manger
NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.

Dr. Francis Everitt, Gravity Probe B Principal Investigator
Stanford University, Sunnyvale, Calif.

Brad Parkinson, Gravity Probe B Co-Principal Investigator
Stanford University, Sunnyvale, Calif.

Jeff Vanden Beukel, Gravity Probe B Deputy Program Manager
Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, Sunnyvale, Calif.

There will be a brief orientation on Gravity Probe B prior to entering the spacecraft processing facility. Due to clean room requirements, media planning to attend are requested to wear long pants and closed-toe shoes, and will also be asked to don clean room attire (bunny suits) that will be provided. No suede, leather or vinyl attire or accessories are permitted. Please avoid using makeup, perfume or cologne.

Quality control personnel may ask that some photographic equipment be cleaned with alcohol wipes before it can be permitted in the clean room area. Special utility bags will be made available for camera accessories so that leather or vinyl camera cases are not taken into the clean room facility.

No food, chewing gum, tobacco, lighters, matches, pencils or pocket knives will be permitted inside the clean room. Also, cell phones and pagers cannot be permitted.

Electronic flash photography will be allowed. Lighting in the facility is metal halide, a silver-white in tone. Photographers should plan to bring film accordingly.

Media desiring to attend this event should contact Lt. Michelle Mayo in the 30th Space Wing Public Affairs office at Vandenberg Air Force Base by the close of business Friday, Nov. 7 at 805-606-3595. On the day of the event, Monday, Nov. 10, media should meet at Vandenberg's main gate on California State Road 1 at 9:15 a.m.

Launch of Gravity Probe B is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 6 at 5:52:02 p.m. PST aboard a Boeing Delta II rocket from Space Launch Complex 2. Project management of Gravity Probe B is by the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala. The spacecraft is built by Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, Sunnyvale, Calif. Government oversight of launch vehicle preparations, vehicle/spacecraft integration and the countdown management on launch day is the responsibility of NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

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