United Launch Alliance (ULA) has successfully deployed the JPSS-1 weather satellite into orbit. According to an official NASA press release, the satellite is, “the first in a series of four highly advanced polar-orbiting satellites, equipped with next-generation technology and designed to improve the accuracy of U.S. weather forecasts out to seven days”
The JPSS-1 weather satellite was launched aboard the second to last ULA Delta II launch vehicle. The Delta II took off from Vandenberg Air Force Base’s Space Launch Complex-2 in California at 09:47 GMT (01:47 PST) on November 18.
Saturday’s launch was the 154th Delta II launch and the 99th consecutive successful launch of a vehicle first developed almost three decades ago.
“The Delta II rocket has truly created a legacy throughout its history, and has proven to be an industry workhorse,” said ULA vice president of Government Satellite Launch, Laura Maginnis. “After almost 3 years since our last Delta II mission, it was great to see it flying and delivering mission success for our customers once again.”
Sixty-three minutes after the launch, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) JPSS-1 weather satellite deployed its solar arrays and began operating on its own power. The satellite will now proceed into its final orbit at which time it will be renamed NOAA-0. Then, following a three-month “checkout and validation” period, the satellite will be fully operational.
“Emergency managers increasingly rely on our forecasts to make critical decisions and take appropriate action before a storm hits,” said Louis W. Uccellini, director of NOAA’s National Weather Service on the importance of the JPSS-1 satellite. “Polar satellite observations not only help us monitor and collect information about current weather systems, but they provide data to feed into our weather forecast models.”
The JPSS-1 weather satellite is scheduled to be joined by JPSS-2 in early 2021 with JPSS-2 and JPSS-3 following in 2026 and 2031 respectively. The last will complete NOAA’s advanced weather forecast constellation.
ULA will next launch the NROL-47 spy satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) on December 13.
Image Credit: NASA