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July 22, 2013
With rockets and main engine firing, the Boeing Delta II launch vehicle leaps off the pad at NASA’s Space Complex 2 on Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., carrying the Aura spacecraft. Aura, a mission dedicated to the health of Earth's atmosphere, successfully launched today at 3:01:59 a.m. Pacific Time. Spacecraft separation occurred at 4:06 a.m. Pacific Time, inserting Aura into a 438-mile orbit. NASA’s latest Earth-observing satellite, Aura will help us understand and protect the air we breathe. Aura will also help scientists understand how the composition of the atmosphere affects and responds to Earth's changing climate. The results from this mission will help scientists better understand the processes that connect local and global air quality. With the launch of Aura, the first series of NASA’s Earth Observing System satellites is complete. The other satellites are Terra, which monitors land, and Aqua, which observes Earth’s water cycle. [Photo: Boeing/Thom Baur]