October 27, 2011
Long-Awaited Earth-Observing Satellite Launching October 28
NASA's NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP) Earth-observing satellite will finally be launched after a five-year delay on October 28.
The $1.5 billion satellite will lift off on Friday aboard a Delta 2 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.
NASA already has a fleet of satellites circling the Earth, but the new satellite is more sophisticated and carries five different types of instruments to collect environmental data.
One of the satellite's main missions is to test key technologies that will be used by next-generation satellites set to launch in a few years.
NOAA meteorologists plan to feed the observations into their weather models to better anticipate and track hurricanes, tornadoes and other extreme weather.
The satellite was supposed to fly in 2006 but problems during the development of several instruments forced a delay.
The space agency has invested about $895 million in the mission while NOAA and the Air Force have contributed about $677 million.
The satellite will orbit 512 miles above earth and will be accompanied by the Joint Polar Satellite System in 2016.
The NPOESS Preparatory project (NPP) satellite is the bridge between NASA's Earth Observing System (EOS) satellites and the JPSS satellites.
Image Caption: In a clean room at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., technicians perform final testing on NASA´s National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System Preparatory Project (NPP) satellite. Image credit: Ball Aerospace
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