Aqua Spacecraft/Delta II Rocket Ready for Launch Saturday, May 4

Press Release From: Goddard Space Flight Center
Posted: Tuesday, April 30, 2002

The launch of NASA's Aqua EOS PM spacecraft aboard a Boeing Delta II rocket is scheduled to occur on Saturday, May 4 from Space Launch Complex 2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Launch is targeted to occur at 2:55 a.m. PDT during a 10-minute launch window. Aqua will be launched into a 428-mile-high polar orbit at an inclination of 98.2 degrees, orbiting the earth every 99 minutes. The entire surface of the Earth will rotate beneath the spacecraft every 16 days.

The primary role of the 6,248-pound Aqua spacecraft is to gather information about the Earth's water cycle. Information the spacecraft gathers will help the world's scientists determine if the cycle of Earth's water is being affected by climate change. The data emphasis will be on atmospheric water vapor, water droplets contained in clouds, ice crystals, sea ice including icebergs, as well as water in the oceans and on land including glaciers. Scientists may then understand the change in Earth bio-systems dependent on water such as growth of vegetation on land and phytoplankton in the oceans. The data will also be useful in long-term weather forecasting and understanding A character of severe storms. The Aqua mission is planned to last six years.


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

NASA Vandenberg Resident Office
Aqua Press Accreditation
Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA
FAX: 805/605-3380

An access badge will issued by U.S. Air Force representatives immediately prior to each media activity including the prelaunch news conference, launch pad tour, remote camera set-up, tower roll-back photo opportunity and launch.

For further information on launch accreditation call 321/867-2468 at the Kennedy Space Center. Beginning Wednesday, May 1 call the NASA Aqua News Center at Vandenberg Air Force Base at 805/605-3051.


The prelaunch news conference will be held on Thursday, May 2, from 1 - 2 p.m. PDT in the main conference room of the NASA-KSC Vandenberg Resident Office, Building 840, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Participants will be:

Ghassem Asrar, Associate Administrator, Office of Earth Science
NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C.

Chuck Dovale, NASA Launch Manager
Kennedy Space Center, FL

Rich Murphy, Boeing Mission Director
Hunting Beach, CA

Mike Donnelly, Aqua Deputy Project Manager
Goddard Space Flight Center, MD

Captain Greg Fox, USAF Launch Weather Officer, 30th Weather Squadron
Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA

Media desiring to cover the prelaunch news conference should meet at 12:30 p.m. in the parking lot at the south gate of Vandenberg Air Force Base located west of Lompoc on California State Road 246. An escort will be provided to Building 840.


On Friday, May 3, a tour will be offered to the news media of Space Launch Complex 2. The tour will also include other launch-related facilities to be used for Aqua. Those wishing to participate will be provided transportation from the Vandenberg Air Force Base main gate located on California State Road 1. Departure will be at 8:30 a.m.


Media desiring to establish sound-activated remote cameras at Space Launch Complex 2 will be escorted to the pad on Friday, May 3. Departure will be at 12:30 p.m. from the Vandenberg Air Force Base main gate located on California State Road 1.


On Friday, May 3, there will be a photo opportunity at the pad for media desiring to observe the mobile service tower, or gantry, being retracted from around the Delta rocket for launch. Those wishing to participate will depart at 5:30 p.m. from the main gate of Vandenberg Air Force Base on California State Road 1.


On launch day, Saturday, May 4, media covering the launch will depart at 1:45 a.m. from the main gate parking lot located on California State Road 1 to convoy to the press launch viewing area. After launch, media desiring to leave will be escorted back to the main gate. Those media desiring interviews with launch and mission personnel after spacecraft separation occurs will convoy to NASA Building 840 on South Vandenberg Air Force Base.


NASA Television will carry the prelaunch news conference starting at 1 p.m. PDT on Thursday, May 2. On launch day, Saturday, May 4, NASA TV coverage of the countdown will begin at 1:30 a.m. PDT and continue through spacecraft separation that occurs at 59 minutes 30 seconds into flight.

NASA Television is carried on GE-2, transponder 9C located at 85 degrees West longitude. Audio only will be available on the "V" circuits, which may be reached by dialing 321/867-1220, 1240, 1260, and 7135.

NASA TV coverage will also be simulcast on the NASA-KSC Home Page. The web site address is Choose "KSC Live Video Feeds" followed by "NASA TV coverage."


A special live program on the Aqua mission will be webcast on launch day by the Goddard Space Flight Center beginning at 1:55 a.m. PDT (08:55 a.m. GMT). The site may be found at: Coverage will continue until 2 hours after launch.


The Aqua News Center at the NASA-KSC Vandenberg Resident Office will be staffed beginning Wednesday, May 1 and may be reached at 805/605-3051. A recorded launch status report will also be available starting at that time by dialing 805/734-2693.

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