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Archive for May, 2005

20-May-05 | Delta flight 312 – NOAA-N

NOAA-N was successfully launched during the early morning hours of Friday, 20 May 2005, aboard a two-stage Delta 7320 rocket.

A perfectly routine countdown and adequate weather conditions at Vandenberg’s SLC-2W led to an on-time liftoff at the beginning of the window, with an official range time of 03:22:01.566 PDT. The Delta II Med-Lite vehicle quickly entered a low-hanging deck of clouds, and further tracking could only be provided by infrared camera and the announcements of the telemetry manager. SECO-1 occurred at T+11 minutes, 24 seconds, and the vehicle entered a long coast phase as it climbed to the apogee of a 100-by-468 nautical mile parking orbit.

At T+59 minutes, 26 seconds, the second stage restarted for a mere 13.3-second burn that circularised the orbit. At T+65 minutes, 44 seconds, the spacecraft was released into its operational orbit of 463.2 by 466.7 nautical miles at a 98.73-degree inclination. The Delta second stage then performed its evasive manoeuvre and depletion burn.

NOAA-N, to be known as NOAA-18 when operational, is a sun-synchronous polar-orbiting element of the POES (Polar Operational Environmental Satellites) constellation. In conjunction with the geostationary GOES system, which enables continuous but low-resolution sensing, POES provides highly detailed weather data as it travels in its relatively low orbit. A pair of POES satellites (NOAA-18 will operate in concert with NOAA-17, already in orbit) transmit images of the entire Earth’s surface every 12 hours.

16-May-05 | Delayed again

Another delay for NOAA-N, as a vent hose broke loose during Friday’s detanking operations, possibly contaminating the spacecraft with hydrocarbons, namely RP1 vapours. Inspections took place over the weekend and the results were expected to be discussed today. If all is well, a Launch Readiness Review on Tuesday will formally set a new launch date, which will occur no earlier than Thursday due to the proper orbital mechanics needed for launch.

13-May-05 | “Modernized” GPS delayed

The launch of the first NAVSTAR IIR-M for the Air Force’s Global Positioning System has been delayed indefinitely for unspecified reasons. In all, eight IIRs will be converted into IIR-Ms, which add a second signal for civilian use and two new encrypted signals for military use. The “M-Code” signals, scheduled to be fully operational by 2010, will have increased power and reduced vulnerability to signal jamming.

13-May-05 | Launch scrub

After two days of delays from high winds at Vandenberg AFB, launch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s newest weather satellite was again scrubbed on 13 May when the ground equipment that supplies the launch pad with cooling and sound-suppressing water suffered an electrical glitch. A 24-hour turnaround is in effect and the new launch time for NOAA-N is set for Saturday morning.



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