Notice

I am working on the template of this blog today in order to chase down some problems that have developed with my template and widgets.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Live Coverage of GRACE-FO Launch

**update** The launch was successful. A short video of the launch has been added. The full live coverage remains below for those who wish to watch the whole thing as it took place.



A quick two-minute briefing on the GRACE-FO mission:


Here is a video explaining what the Iridium NEXT constellation of satellites will be able to achieve:





Live Broadcast: Launching NASA's GRACE-FO
May 22 at 12:15 p.m. PDT (3:15 p.m. EDT)
Launch expected no earlier than 12:47 p.m. PDT (3:47 p.m. EDT)

SpaceX LIve Video




A backup instantaneous launch opportunity is available on Wednesday, May 23 at 3:42 EDT.

Falcon 9’s first stage for the Iridium-6/GRACE-FO mission previously supported the Zuma mission from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in January 2018. SpaceX will not attempt to recover Falcon 9’s first stage after launch.


JPL Live Video


Twin satellites that will monitor Earth's water cycle are scheduled to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in Central California on Tuesday, May 22, in a unique rideshare arrangement. The two Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On mission (GRACE-FO) spacecraft will join five Iridium NEXT communications satellites as the payload on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Launch Timeline

On liftoff, the Falcon 9 first-stage engines will burn for approximately 2 minutes and 45 seconds before shutting down at main engine cutoff (MECO). The Falcon 9's first and second stages will separate seconds later. Then, the second-stage engine will ignite for the first time (SES1) and burn until the vehicle reaches the altitude of the injection orbit, 305 miles (490 kilometers).

While this burn is going on, the payload fairing -- the launch vehicle's nose cone - will separate into two halves like a clamshell and fall away.

When the rocket's second stage has completed its ascent to the injection orbit altitude, it will pitch down (its nose points down) 30 degrees and roll so that one of the twin GRACE-FO satellites is facing down, toward Earth, and the other is facing up, toward space. Then the second stage engine will cut off (SECO).

About 10 minutes after liftoff, a separation system on the second stage will deploy the GRACE-FO satellites. The separation will occur over the Pacific Ocean at about 17.5 degrees North latitude, 122.6 degrees West longitude. The first opportunity to receive data from the spacecraft will occur at NASA's tracking station at McMurdo, Antarctica, about 23 minutes after separation.

After the GRACE-FO satellites are deployed, the Falcon 9 second stage will coast for half an orbit before reigniting its engine (SES2) to take the Iridium NEXT satellites to a higher orbit for deployment.

From Deployment to Science Separation Distance

At deployment, the GRACE-FO satellites will be released from their payload dispenser in opposite directions at a rate of 0.8 to 1 foot per second each (0.25 to 0.30 meters). The Earth-facing satellite will be pushed down into a lower orbit that is faster on average, while the space-facing satellite will be pushed up into a higher orbit that is slower on average.

For the first few days after launch, the lower, faster satellite will pull slowly ahead of the other until the two satellites are approximately 137 miles (220 kilometers) apart -- the optimal separation distance for science operations. Then the lower, leading satellite will be raised into the same orbit as the higher, trailing satellite. This maneuver will keep the two spacecraft from continuing to drift farther apart, so that the two continue to orbit on the same track, one following the other.

For more information about the mission, visit:

https://gracefo.jpl.nasa.gov

https://www.nasa.gov/missions/grace-fo

A joint mission with the German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ), GRACE-FO will provide critical measurements that will be used together with other data to monitor the movement of water masses across the planet and mass changes within Earth itself. Monitoring changes in ice sheets and glaciers, underground water storage, and sea level will provide a unique view of Earth's climate and will have far-reaching benefits. The mission is planned to fly at least five years.

The satellites will launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket no earlier than 12:47 p.m. PDT (3:47 p.m. EDT) today from Space Launch Complex-4E at Vandenberg. GRACE-FO will share its ride to orbit with five Iridium NEXT communications satellites as part of a commercial rideshare agreement.

JPL manages the GRACE-FO mission for the agency's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. GFZ contracted GRACE-FO launch services from Iridium, and SpaceX is providing the Falcon 9 launch service.





0 comments :