Artist concept of QuikScat
Artist concept of QuikScat. Image credit: NASA/JPL

NASA's Quick Scatterometer (QuikScat) satellite has arrived at Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA, to begin final preparations for launch atop a Titan II rocket May 29 at 7:15 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time.

The spacecraft will be prepared for its ascent into space in Vandenberg's Building 1610, a payload processing facility on the north side of the Air Force base. Final assembly of the spacecraft will include four days of battery conditioning to ensure that all power systems are operating; final testing of the SeaWinds scatterometer; and spacecraft system testing to check out all onboard operations, such as power, data and guidance and control.

The spacecraft will be moved to Space Launch Complex 4 West overlooking the Pacific Ocean on May 16 and placed on the Titan II launch vehicle. The rocket, a decommissioned intercontinental missile, has been refurbished to supply 19,350 kilograms (43,000 pounds) of thrust at liftoff.

With its own onboard propellant, the QuikScat satellite will weigh 870 kilograms (1,910 pounds). Launch is planned to take place during a 10-minute window from 7:15 p.m. to 7:25 p.m. PDT May 29 (03:15 to 03:25 Universal Time May 30). A second 10- minute window will be available at the same time on the following day if launch does not take place on May 29.

Once it reaches its final orbit, QuickScat will be circling Earth every 100 minutes at an altitude of about 800 kilometers (500 miles).

QuickScat will measure the speed and direction of winds near the surface of the world's oceans using its specialized SeaWinds microwave radar instrument during a two-year primary mission. It will provide scientists with accurate, frequent, high-resolution measurements of ocean surface wind speed and direction in clear and cloudy skies.

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