QuikScat satellite successfully launched

J. Kocijanski (kocis@catskill.net)
Sun, 20 Jun 1999 09:21:01 +0100

>Date: Sat, 19 Jun 1999 22:41:40 -0700 (PDT)
>From: JPLNews@jpl.nasa.gov
>Subject: QuikScat satellite successfully launched
>Reply-To: news-owner@www.jpl.nasa.gov
>To: undisclosed-recipients:;
>PASADENA, CALIF. 91109. TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011
>FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                          June 19, 1999
>     NASA's Quick Scatterometer (QuikScat) was lofted into space
>at 7:15 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time today atop a U.S. Air Force
>Titan II launch vehicle from Space Launch Complex 4 West at
>California's Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA.  The satellite was
>launched in a south-southwesterly direction, soaring over the
>Pacific Ocean at sunset as it ascended into space to achieve an
>initial elliptical orbit with a maximum altitude of about 800
>kilometers (500 miles) above Earth's surface.
>     Approximately two and a half minutes after launch, as the
>spacecraft sailed over the ocean, past the coast of Mexico's
>Baja, California peninsula, the Titan II first-stage engine shut
>down and the second stage was ignited. A minute later, the
>fairing or nose cone separated in two halves and was jettisoned
>as planned, followed two minutes later by second-stage engine
>shut-down. Sixteen seconds later, the Titan rocket turned to
>reorient itself and shield the QuikScat satellite from sunlight.
>     The Titan launch vehicle and QuikScat spacecraft then
>coasted over the southern hemisphere for 48 minutes, crossing
>Antarctica and heading in a north-northwesterly direction toward
>Africa. Over Madagascar, when the Titan reached maximum altitude,
>its second-stage thrusters were fired to adjust the vehicle's
>     Just off the coast from Mozambique, about 59 minutes after
>launch, the QuikScat satellite separated from the Titan II's
>second stage booster and was pushed into a looping orbit over
>Earth's poles that will bring it as close as 279 kilometers (173
>miles) from Earth's surface and as far away as 807 kilometers
>(501 miles). An hour into flight, QuikScat deployed its solar
>arrays. A tracking station at Svalbard, Norway, acquired the
>first signal from the spacecraft at 8:32:50 p.m. PDT, or about 1
>hour and 18 minutes after launch.
>     During the next two weeks, QuikScat will fire its thrusters
>as many as 25 times to circularize and gradually fine-tune its
>polar orbit.  Thruster firings will be carried out in up to five
>clusters of five burns apiece.  During each cluster, the
>thrusters will fire for 10 minutes, then will rest for two
>orbits, then will fire again for 10 minutes until a total of five
>burns are performed. The clusters will be spaced two days apart.
>     Eighteen days into flight, the scatterometer science
>instrument on QuikScat will be turned on for the first time.
>Members of the project engineering and science teams will spend
>the next 12 days performing detailed checks of the instrument and
>initially calibrating its radar backscatter and ocean wind
>measurements. Although calibration and validation of the
>measurements will continue for several months, QuikScat will
>formally begin its primary mission of mapping ocean wind speed
>and direction starting about 30 days after launch. The primary
>mission is scheduled to continue for two years.
>     QuikScat is managed for NASA's Office of Earth Science,
>Washington, DC, by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory,  which also
>built the scatterometer instrument and will provide ground
>science processing systems. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center,
>Greenbelt, MD, managed development of the satellite, designed and
>built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, CO. NASA's
>Earth Sciences Enterprise is a long-term research and technology
>program designed to examine Earth's land, oceans, atmosphere, ice
>and life as a total integrated system. JPL is a division of the
>California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA.
>                          #####
>6/19/99 DEA