May 20, 2005

Global Weather-Tracking Satellite Launches

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AP) -- After a series of delays, a rocket carrying a global weather-tracking satellite blasted off Friday on a multimillion-dollar mission to improve forecasting and monitor global climate changes.

The satellite originally was pegged to launch May 11 but the $341 million mission was scrubbed four times - twice by high winds, once because of a problem with launch pad equipment and because of a loose vent hose.

The 3,100-pound satellite, built by Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT), is the fourth in a series of five polar-orbiting weather satellites. Like its predecessors, it was fitted with sensors that will be used in worldwide search-and-rescue operations.

The goal of NOAA-N is to collect information about the Earth's surface and atmosphere and build databases that can help in forecasting changes such as El Nino and La Nina, the ocean temperature phenomena that affect weather.

The last satellite in the series, NOAA-N Prime, is scheduled for launch in 2007.


On the Net:

NASA: http://www.nasa.gov/noaa-n