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NASA - Aura Spacecraft Details
February 1, 2005

Aura Spacecraft Illustration Building this complex spacecraft requires an engineering team with a diverse set of technical skills. The team translated the scientific requirements of the mission into the technical requirements for the spacecraft to assure that when the subsystems and instruments are brought on together to form the observatory (spacecraft plus instruments), they function as one cohesive system.

The spacecraft is made up of the following sybsystems: command and data handling; communications; electrical power; electrical distribution; guidance, navigation and control; propulsion, software and thermal countrol. Each system requires designers, engineers, analysts and technicians with specialized training. A team of integration and test specialiss assembles the observatory and tests it as a system, simulating the launch and on-orbit environments as closely as possible. For example, the spacecraft is exposed to vibrations similar to what it would experience during launch. As the observatory comes together, the flight operations team learns and practices how to operate the observatory before launch.

The Aura observatory was launched on a Delta II 7920 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on July 15, 2004. It was launched into a near polar, sun-synchronous orbit of 438 miles (705 kilometers), with a period of approximately 100 minutes and a 1:45 PM equator crossing time. The spacecraft repeats its ground track every sixteen days.

Name Parameter
Size: Stowed - 8.8 ft h (2.70 m ) by 7.5 ft w (2.28 m ) by 22.7 ft (6.91 m )
Deployed - 15.4 ft h (4.70 m ) by 57.0 ft w (17.37 m ) by 22.7 ft (6.91 m )
Weight: Total - 6,542 lbs (2,967 kg)
Spacecraft - 3,896 lbs (1,767 kg)
Instruments - 2,646 lbs (1,200 kg)
Power: 4,600W (End of Life)
Telemetry: S-band
Orbit: 438 mi (705 km) polar, sun-synchronous, 1:45 PM ascending node
Launch Vehicle: Delta 7920

+ Learn about the spacecraft subsystems
+ View the spacecraft image gallery
+ View satellite equipment layout

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Page Last Updated: January 23rd, 2014
Page Editor: NASA Administrator