Saturday, February 27, 2010

Delta IV primed to launch new weather satellite

A new American weather satellite is ready to begin a decade long mission next week to photograph and study our planet and the effects solar weather has upon our big blue marble.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA are responsible for the GOES-P meteorological satellite which will be used to take high resolution detailed images of the planet's weather systems, and use computer generated data to make a more accurate forecast on expected weather trends.

Launch of a United Launch Alliance Delta IV is set for Wednesday, March 3 at 6:17pm EST (2317 GMT) -- the beginning of a one hour launch window -- from space launch complex 37-B here at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Lift-off was targeted for two days earlier, however a flight readiness meeting on Feb. 26th pointed out the need to replace a solid rocket motor's steering control valve. And, on Monday, the ground crew needed extra time to replace a quick disconnect valve in a fuel line.

The Geostationary Operational Enviro
nmental Satellite -P will make observations of 60% of the earth's surface, including all of the western hemisphere from it's perch 22,300 miles above the equator.

Among the several instruments on board the GOES P is the Solar X-ray Imager. The SXI is an x-ray telescope which will monitor solar activity and it's effects on earth. The telescope will take a detailed image of the Sun each minute for analysis. This will help in early detection of huge solar flares which can interfere with radio and television broadcasts.

The Space Environment Monitor is a multi-instrument space weather detection device on the weather satellite, and will assist in special space weather forecasts for astronauts on the International Space Station and high altitude aircraft and jets.

This latest GOES satellite arrived at the Kennedy Space Center, touching down aboard a military cargo craft from it's manufacturing plant in California on December 17th.

The payload was then transferred west across the Indian River into Titusville and the AstroTech Facility for prelaunch preparations.

At launch, the Delta IV's main stage RS-68 engine will ignite followed by its twin solid fueled boosters as the spacecraft begins it's trip to orbit.

Launching in a flight azimuth of 95 degrees, the Delta IV will travel toward the east-southeast away from the Cape.

Following an on time launch, the twin boosters will burn out and then separate from the core booster at 6:20:40 pm, as it travels 17 miles above the coral waters 13 miles off Florida's coastline.

Spacecraft separation is planned for 10:40:26 pm later that evening.

In June 2009,the GOES-O launched from Cape Canaveral aboard a Delta IV.

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