Kennedy News

George H. Diller
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

Steve Cole
Headquarters, Washington

Alan Buis
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

May 26, 2011
Aquarius/SAC-D Satellite Ready For Launch June 9
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The launch of the Aquarius/SAC-D observatory aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket is scheduled for Thursday, June 9. Liftoff from NASA's Space Launch Complex 2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB), Calif., is targeted during a five-minute launch window that opens at 7:20 a.m. PDT (10:20 a.m. EDT). The spacecraft's final circular polar orbit will be 408 miles (657 kilometers) at an inclination of 98 degrees.

Aquarius is the NASA-built primary instrument on the SAC-D spacecraft. The observatory was built by Argentina's space agency CONAE. Aquarius will map global changes in salinity -- the concentration of dissolved salt -- at the ocean surface. Salinity is a key measurement for understanding how changes in rainfall, evaporation, and the melting or freezing of ice influence ocean circulation and are linked to variations in Earth's climate. The three-year mission will provide new insights into how variations in ocean surface salinity relate to these fundamental climate processes.


News media desiring accreditation for the prelaunch and launch activities of Aquarius/SAC-D should fax their requests on news organization letterhead to:

Jeremy Eggers
30th Space Wing Public Affairs Office
Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

Telephone: 805-606-3595
FAX: 805-606-4571

Information required for U.S. media is full legal name, date of birth and media affiliation. A legal photo identification will be required upon arrival at Vandenberg.


Tuesday, June 7: The prelaunch news conference will be held from 1 to 2:30 p.m. PDT (4 to 5:30 p.m. EDT) in the second floor conference room of the NASA Vandenberg Resident Office, Building 840, at Vandenberg Air Force Base. The briefing will be carried live on NASA Television with question-and-answer capability available from other NASA field centers.

Media desiring to cover the event should meet at the south gate of VAFB on California State Road 246 at 12:30 p.m. to be escorted by 30th Space Wing Public Affairs to the news conference.

Participants in the prelaunch news conference will be:

Eric Ianson, Aquarius program executive
NASA Headquarters

Omar Baez, NASA launch director
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

Vernon Thorp, program manager, NASA missions
United Launch Alliance, Denver, Colo.

Amit Sen, Aquarius project manager
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

Capt. Shawn Hannah, launch weather officer, 30th Weather Squadron
Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.


Immediately following the prelaunch news conference will be an Aquarius Mission Science Briefing. Presenting the mission science objectives will be:

Gary Lagerloef, Aquarius principal investigator
Earth & Space Research, Seattle

Yi Chao, Aquarius project scientist
Jet Propulsion Laboratory


Wednesday, June 8: Media desiring to establish sound-activated remote cameras at the launch pad should meet at the pass and identification building located at the Vandenberg main gate on California State Road 1 at 8:30 a.m. to be escorted to the launch pad.


Wednesday, June 8: There will be an opportunity for the media to see and photograph the Delta II with Aquarius/SAC-D at the launch pad and speak with representatives of CONAE and the government of Argentina. This is planned to occur at approximately the time the mobile service tower is to be pulled away from the rocket. Media will depart for the pad at 9:30 p.m. from the pass and identification building at the Vandenberg main gate on California State Road 1. Those wishing to attend should confirm their participation with Jeremy Eggers, 30th Space Wing Public Affairs office at 805-606-3595.


Thursday, June 9: Media covering the Aquarius/SAC-D launch should meet at 6 a.m. at the Vandenberg main gate located on California State Road 1 to be escorted to the press viewing site. Press credentials and identification from a bona fide news organization will be required for access. A driver's license alone will not be sufficient.

After launch, media will be escorted back to the main gate. Media interested in speaking with CONAE representatives, officials from the government of Argentina and mission officials will be escorted to NASA Building 840 on south Vandenberg for an informal interview opportunity following a successful launch. This event will begin at 9:30 a.m. PDT. It will not be carried on NASA Television.


NASA Television will carry the prelaunch news conference and mission science briefing starting at 1 p.m. PDT (4 p.m. EDT) on Tuesday, June 7. The prelaunch news conference also will be webcast at:

On launch day, June 9, NASA TV commentary coverage of the countdown will begin at 5:30 a.m. PDT (8:30 a.m. EDT). Liftoff is targeted for 7:20:13 a.m. PDT (10:20:13 a.m. EDT). Spacecraft separation from the Delta II occurs 56 minutes, 42 seconds after launch.

For information on receiving NASA TV, go to:


To monitor audio of the prelaunch news conference and the launch coverage, dial the NASA "V" circuits, which may be accessed directly at 321-867-1220....-1240....-1260. This audito is monitor only. "Mission Audio" of countdown activities without NASA launch commentary will be carried on 321-867-7135 beginning at 5 a.m. PDT (8 a.m. EDT).


Launch coverage of the Delta II Aquarius/SAC-D countdown activities will be available on the NASA website by going to the home page at:

Live countdown coverage on NASA's launch blog begins at 5:30 a.m. PDT (8:30 a.m. EDT). Coverage features real-time updates of countdown milestones, as well as streaming video clips highlighting launch preparations and liftoff.

To access these features, go to NASA's Aquarius/SAC-D mission website at:


The Aquarius/SAC-D News Center at the NASA Vandenberg Resident Office will be staffed beginning June 1. To speak with a NASA communications specialist, call 805-605-3051. A recorded launch status report also will be available starting on June 6 by dialing 805-734-2693.

The Aquarius/SAC-D mission is a collaboration between NASA and Argentina's space agency with participation by Brazil, Canada, France and Italy. The Aquarius science instruments were jointly built by JPL and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. JPL will manage Aquarius through the mission's commissioning phase and archive mission data. Goddard will manage the mission's operations phase and process Aquarius science data. NASA's Launch Services Program at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida provides launch management. United Launch Alliance of Denver, Colo., is NASA's launch service provider of the Delta II 7320.


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