Airbus Continues to Collaborate with NASA to Monitor Climate Change from Space

Date: Issue 130 - May 2024

Airbus has been awarded a contract to design and build the GRACE-C twin spacecraft by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory JPL (Pasadena, California). This new mission of NASA and the German Space Agency at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) will strengthen the more than 20-year-long partnership between the USA and Germany to ensure uninterrupted measurement of the Earth's gravity field, which started in 2002 with GRACE and continues with GRACE Follow-On, launched in 2018.

During its five-year nominal mission lifetime, the GRACE-C Mission (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment-Continuity) will continue the series of measurements, observing how Earth's groundwater, oceans, ice sheets, and land shift, month-to-month, by measuring changes in the planet's gravity field. GRACE-C consists of two identical satellites flying around 200 km apart at an orbit altitude of 500 km with an inclination of 89 degrees. Each satellite will measure approximately 3 x 2 x 1 meters and weigh around 600 kg. The launch is planned for late 2028 from the USA.