WASHINGTON, May 26, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The launch of the Aquarius/SAC-D observatory is scheduled for June 9, from NASA's Space Launch Complex 2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Liftoff of the United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket is targeted to occur during a five-minute launch window that opens at 10:20 a.m. EDT (7:20 a.m. PDT).
Aquarius is the NASA-built primary instrument on the SAC-D spacecraft. The observatory was built by Argentina's space agency, CONAE. Aquarius will map global changes in salinity at the ocean surface. The three-year mission will provide new insights into how variations in ocean surface salinity relate to fundamental climate processes.
The Aquarius/SAC-D News Center at the NASA Vandenberg Resident Office will be staffed beginning Wednesday, June 1. A NASA communications specialist will be available to answer reporters' questions at 805-605-3051. A recorded launch status report will be available starting June 6 at 805-734-2693.
To attend the prelaunch and launch activities on June 7-9, U.S. journalists should fax their requests on news organization letterhead to Jeremy Eggers, 30th Space Wing Public Affairs Office, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., on 805-606-4571 or e-mail [email protected]. Requests must include full legal name, date of birth and media affiliation. A legal photo identification will be required upon arrival at Vandenberg.
A prelaunch news conference will be held Tuesday, June 7, at 4 p.m. EDT (1 p.m. PDT) in the NASA Vandenberg Resident Office. The briefing will be carried live on NASA Television. Reporters at NASA field centers can participate after contacting their local centers.
On launch day, June 9, NASA TV commentary coverage of the countdown will begin at 8:30 a.m. EDT (5:30 a.m. PDT). Liftoff is targeted for 10:20:13 a.m. EDT (7:20:13 a.m. PDT). Spacecraft separation occurs 56 minutes, 42 seconds after launch.
Live countdown coverage also will be available online. Launch updates begin on NASA's launch blog at 8:30 a.m. EDT (5:30 a.m. PDT). Coverage features real-time updates of countdown milestones, as well as streaming video clips highlighting launch preparations and liftoff. To view the launch blog, visit:
The Aquarius/SAC-D mission is a collaboration between NASA and Argentina's space agency with participation by Brazil, Canada, France and Italy. The Aquarius science instruments were jointly built by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., and Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. JPL will manage Aquarius through the mission's commissioning phase and archive mission data. Goddard will manage the mission's operations phase and process Aquarius science data. NASA's Launch Services Program at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida provides launch management. United Launch Alliance of Denver is NASA's launch service provider of the Delta II 7320.