SWOT Spacecraft Encapsulated in Payload Fairing
Technicians encapsulated the SWOT satellite, or the Surface Water and Ocean Topography mission, in its payload fairing on Dec. 8, 2022, in preparation for launch. At the SpaceX processing facility at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, technicians completed the operation and will soon mate the fairing to the top of a Falcon 9 rocket. The fairing protects the satellite from aerodynamic pressure and heating during ascent. After the rocket escapes Earth's atmosphere, the fairing separates into two halves, which are jettisoned back to Earth.
Once in orbit, SWOT will measure the height of water in freshwater bodies and the ocean on more than 90&percnt of Earth's surface. This information will provide insights into how the ocean influences climate change; how a warming world affects lakes, rivers, and reservoirs; and how communities can better prepare for disasters, such as floods.
SWOT is a collaborative effort by NASA and France's Centre National d'Études Spatiales (CNES) with contributions from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and UK Space Agency.
Launch is targeted for Dec. 15, 2022, at 3:46 a.m. PST from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Space Force Base.