The Jason 1 satellite, a joint project of NASA and CNES, the French space
agency, arrived at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., today to begin final preparations
for launch no earlier than Sept. 15.
Jason 1 is the follow-on to Topex/Poseidon, a U.S.-French spacecraft that has
been making precise measurements of ocean surface topography since 1992. These data
are used to map ocean currents, improve the understanding of ocean circulation, measure
global sea level change and improve global climate forecasts.
The French-built Jason 1 spacecraft was flown from Nice, France, to Vandenberg
on an Antonov-124 cargo plane and then transported to a clean room at Spaceport
Systems International, located on the base. After French and U.S. project members
complete their final adjustments and tests, the spacecraft will be fueled and turned over to
the Boeing Company on Aug. 22 in preparation for launch.
Jason 1 will be launched from Space Launch Complex 2 West at Vandenberg Air
Force Base atop a Delta II rocket. The rocket has a dual payload system that allows the
launch vehicle to carry two satellites at once. Jason 1 will share part of the ride with
another spacecraft called Timed, a joint atmospheric mission of NASA and the Applied
Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md. Jason-1 will be carried at the top of the rocket's nose
cone and will separate first.
The launch window is about 20 minutes each day. On Sept.15, the window opens
at 12:59 a.m PDT. The launch window gets earlier by about 12 minutes each day.
Once it reaches its final orbit, Jason 1 will assume the flight path of
Topex/Poseidon, which will move into a parallel orbit. They will circle Earth every 112
minutes at an altitude of about 1,330 kilometers (830 miles), measuring the surface
topography of the oceans to within 4 centimeters (about 2 inches).
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory is managed for NASA by the California Institute of
Technology in Pasadena.