VANDENBERG AFB, CALIF. - The second stage of the Delta II launch vehicle for the Gravity Probe B experiment is lifted off the transporter after its arrival on Space Launch Complex 2, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The Gravity Probe B will launch a payload of four gyroscopes into low-Earth polar orbit to test two extraordinary predictions of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity: 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). Once in orbit, for 18 months each gyroscope’s spin axis will be monitored as it travels through local spacetime, observing and measuring these effects. The experiment was developed by Stanford University, Lockheed Martin and NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. The targeted launch date is Dec. 6, 2003.
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