Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer Ready for Launch Dec. 9

Press Release From: NASA HQ
Posted: Wednesday, December 2, 2009

image VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. - The launch of NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket is scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 9.

Liftoff will be from NASA's Space Launch Complex 2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The launch window is approximately 14 minutes in duration, extending from 6:09:33 to 6:23:51 a.m. PST (9:09:33 to 9:23:51 a.m. EST). The spacecraft's final circular polar orbit will be 326 miles (525 kilometers), orbiting the earth 15 times a day.

WISE will scan the entire sky in infrared light with sensitivity hundreds of times greater than ever before possible, picking up the glow of hundreds of millions of objects and producing millions of images. The mission will uncover objects never seen, including the coolest stars, the universe's most luminous galaxies and some of the darkest near-Earth asteroids and comets.

The voluminous quantity of images WISE can generate will help scientists answer fundamental questions about the origins of planets, stars and galaxies, and provide data for astronomers for decades to come. During the nine-month survey mission, snapshots can be taken as frequently as every 11 seconds.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, or JPL, Pasadena, Calif., manages WISE for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The mission's principal investigator, Edward "Ned" Wright, is at UCLA. The mission was competitively selected under NASA's Explorers Program, managed by the Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. The science instrument was built by the Space Dynamics Laboratory, Logan, Utah, and the spacecraft was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo.

Science operations and data processing take place at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena which manages JPL for NASA. The launch is the responsibility of NASA's Launch Services Program, headquartered at the Kennedy Space Center. The Delta II launch service is being provided to Kennedy by United Launch Alliance, Denver, Colo.


News media desiring accreditation for the launch of WISE should fax their requests on news organization letterhead to:

Stefan Bocchino
30th Space Wing Public Affairs Office
Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

FAX: 805-606-8303
Telephone: 805-606-3595

Information required for U.S. media is full legal name, date of birth
and media affiliation.


Monday, Dec. 7: A prelaunch news conference will be held at 1 p.m. PST in the 2nd floor conference room of the NASA Vandenberg Resident Office, Building 840, at Vandenberg Air Force Base. Question-and-answer capability will be available from other NASA centers. Participants will be:

Jon Morse, director of astronomy and physics division
NASA Headquarters, Washington

Chuck Dovale, NASA launch director
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

Vernon Thorpe, program manager, NASA Missions
United Launch Alliance, Denver, Colo.

Bill Irace, WISE project manager
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

Captain Andrew M. Frey Jr., launch weather officer, 30th Weather
Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.


Immediately following the WISE prelaunch news conference will be a WISE mission science briefing. Participating will be:

Edward Wright, WISE principal investigator
University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)

Peter Eisenhardt, WISE project scientist
Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Amy Mainzer, WISE deputy project scientist
Jet Propulsion Laboratory

John Elwell, project manager, WISE science instrument
Space Dynamics Laboratory, Logan, Utah

Media desiring to cover the prelaunch news conference should meet at the south gate of Vandenberg on California State Road 246 at 12:30 p.m., on Monday, Dec. 7, to be escorted by 30th Space Wing Public Affairs to the NASA Vandenberg Resident Office.

A post-launch news conference will not be held.


Tuesday, Dec. 8: Media desiring to establish sound-activated remote cameras at the launch pad should meet at the visitor control center located at the Vandenberg main gate on California State Road 1 at 1 p.m., to be escorted to the launch pad.


Wednesday, Dec. 9: Media covering the WISE/Delta II launch should meet at 5:15 a.m., at the visitor control center at the Vandenberg main gate on California State Road 1 to be escorted to the press viewing site. Press credentials and identification from a bona fide news organization will be required for access. A driver's license alone will not be sufficient.

After launch, media will be escorted back to the gate. Media interested in speaking with launch officials can be escorted to the NASA Mission Director's Center for an interview opportunity with launch and mission officials once spacecraft separation occurs.


On launch day, Dec. 9, NASA TV coverage of the countdown will begin at 4 a.m. PST (7 a.m. EST). Spacecraft separation from the Delta II occurs 55 minutes, 20 seconds after launch. For information on receiving NASA TV, go to:

NASA Television will carry the prelaunch news conference and mission science briefing starting at 1 p.m., on Dec. 7. The prelaunch news conference also will be webcast at:


To monitor audio of the prelaunch news conference and the launch coverage on the phone, dial 321-867-1220....1240....1260. This system is not two-way interactive. "Mission Audio" of countdown activities without NASA launch commentary will be carried on 321-867-7135 beginning at 3 a.m.


A WISE webcast with launch and mission principals is scheduled for 9 a.m. (12 p.m. EST) on Dec. 8. To access WISE features, visit NASA's WISE Web site at:

On Dec. 9, launch coverage of WISE/Delta II countdown activities will be available on the NASA Web site by going to the home page at:

Live countdown coverage on NASA's launch blog begins at 4 a.m. Coverage features real-time updates of countdown milestones, as well as streaming video clips highlighting launch preparations and liftoff.


The WISE/Delta II News Center is at the NASA Vandenberg Resident Office and will be staffed beginning Dec. 3. Starting at that time, call 805-605-3051 for information. A recorded status report will also be available then by dialing 805-734-2693.

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