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GPM's Road to Tanegashima Space Center
November 27, 2013

NASA's Global Precipitation Measurement Core Satellite takes its last giant step here on Earth with its arrival at its launch site at Tanegashima Island Space Center in Japan.

The spacecraft, the size of a small private jet, is the largest satellite ever built at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. It left Goddard inside a large shipping container Nov. 19, 2013, and began its journey across the Pacific Ocean Nov. 21 from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, with a refueling stop in Anchorage, Alaska.

From Kitakyushu Airport, the spacecraft was loaded onto a barge heading to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's (JAXA's) Tanegashima Space Center on Tanegashima Island in southern Japan, where it will be prepared for launch in early 2014 on an H-IIA rocket.

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Rani Gran
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

C-5 aircraft carrying GPM to Japan
A U.S. Air Force C-5 transport aircraft carrying the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Core Observatory landed at Kitakyushu Airport in Japan at approximately 10:30 p.m. EST Saturday, Nov. 23.
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JAXA
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barge
Recent improvements to the Kitakyushu airport in Japan facilitated the transportation of the GPM satellite. A freshly paved concrete staging area supported a massive crane as it lifted the satellite into the cargo hold of an ocean barge.
Image Credit: 
NASA Goddard/Michael Starobin
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GPM shipping container
GPM's shipping container is unloaded from the U.S. Air Force C-5 cargo plane that carried it to Japan.
Image Credit: 
NASA
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barge
GPM traveled by barge from Kitakyushu airport to Tanegashima Space Center.
Image Credit: 
NASA
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GPM shipping container
GPM's shipping container is unloaded from the U.S. Air Force C-5 cargo plane that carried it to Japan.
Image Credit: 
NASA
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GPM shipping container
This isn't the kind of box you can put back in the mail with a bar-coded sticker! At more than 6,000 pounds, the GPM cargo box is a high-precision piece of hardware in itself, and after retrofit, likely destined for another satellite currently under construction.
Image Credit: 
NASA
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GPM shipping container
Between the cargo ship and the tractor trailer, the GPM satellite was hoisted out of the ship's hold by an enormous crane on Nov. 26 at Tanegashima Island. Here it hangs on a high tension line while ground teams line everything up below.
Image Credit: 
NASA
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A slow-motion convoy of cars, one big truck, and lots of pedestrians walked alongside the GPM satellite about a mile from the runway at Kitakyushu Airport to the dock area.
Image Credit: 
NASA Goddard/Michael Starobin
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Page Last Updated: November 27th, 2013
Page Editor: Rob Garner