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KSC-03PD-3279

January 18, 2013
VANDENBERG AFB, CALIF. - In the NASA spacecraft processing facility on North Vandenberg Air Force Base, workers stand by as the balloon at right is released to lift the solar array panel into position for installation on the Gravity Probe B spacecraft. Installing each array is a 3-day process and includes a functional deployment test. The Gravity Probe B mission is a relativity experiment developed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, Stanford University and Lockheed Martin. The 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 spin.