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Glory Prepares to Join 'A-Train'
Launching aboard the four-stage Taurus XL rocket, NASA's Glory spacecraft will take its place among a series of Earth-observing satellites collectively called the "A-Train."
Once in orbit, Glory will study the effect of aerosols on our planet's energy budget.
Both the Taurus launch vehicle and the Glory spacecraft were built by Orbital Sciences Corporation and prepared for launch at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
The spacecraft arrived Jan. 11, 2011, at the Astrotech Payload Processing Facility for final processing and prelaunch checkout.
Soon after, its protective covers were removed and its solar arrays were inspected... and tested.
Then, Glory was enclosed in the rounded payload fairing that will keep it safe during the critical climb to orbit.
A small deployer called P-POD is hitching a ride into space along with Glory, mounted on the Taurus rocket's third stage.
Tucked into the P-POD are the ELaNa CubeSats, three tiny satellites built by college and university students.
While the mission's payloads were being prepared for flight, the all-solid-fuel Taurus XL vehicle was coming together at Vandenberg's Space Launch Complex 576-E.
The vehicle's three upper sections -- stages 1, 2 and 3 -- were joined together and transported to the launch site for final assembly.
But first, technicians carefully guided the rocket's ignition stage, known as Stage 0, down onto its launch mount and bolted it in place.
Next came the Interstage, a structural adapter between the Stage 1 and wider Stage 0 sections.
On Feb. 15, 2011, the payload fairing was added to the third stage, and the entire upper stack was installed...
...leaving the Taurus XL rocket and the Glory spacecraft ready for final testing and liftoff.
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