GRACE Follow-on Mission
GFZ signs contract with US space agency NASA and procures the launcher
Today the Board of the German Research Centre for Geosciences has signed the Memorandum of Understanding with NASA Chief Administrator Charles Frank Bolden Jr. to mutually realize the follow-on mission of GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment). This contract seals the joint long-term planning and realization of this unique tandem satellite mission, which will, after having successfully passed the "Preliminary Design Review" in January, now enter its construction phase to be launched in August 2017.
Germany provides optical elements for a Laser Ranging Interferometers (LRI). The distance measurement between both satellites shall be improved by this new technology by a factor of up to 50. The LRI design was developed by the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute), the flight hardware will be delivered by SpaceTech GmbH with in-kind contributions by the German Aerospace Center.