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January 31, 2013
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, CALIF. -- NASA's latest Earth observing satellite, Aqua, lifts off from the Western Test Range of Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., aboard a Delta II rocket at 2:55 a.m. PDT. Aqua is dedicated to advancing our understanding of Earth's water cycle and our environment. Launching the Aqua spacecraft marks a major milestone in support of NASA's mission to help us better understand and protect our planet. Spacecraft separation occurred at 3:54 a.m. PDT, inserting Aqua into a 438-mile (705-kilometer) orbit. Photo by Bill Ingalls