NASA launches satellite from Vandenberg at night [Video]
In the predawn hours, NASA launched a 13-story rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base that lighted the night sky for miles around.
Check out the blast off in the video below or here on YouTube.
The Delta II rocket launched at 2:48 a.m. PDT on Friday from Space Launch Complex-2 at the base, located northwest of Santa Barbara. It was carrying a $1.5-billion weather satellite that’s armed with new state-of-the-art sensors that will observe the ozone, atmospheric temperatures, snow and vegetation coverage.
According to NASA, the satellite, known as the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System, or NPOESS Preparatory Project, is a crucial first step in building the next-generation weather system.
"NPP is critical to our understanding of Earth's processes and changes," NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver said in a statement. "Its impact will be global and builds on 40 years of work to understand our complex planet from space."
The satellite was built by Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp., with components made by Raytheon Co. in their El Segundo facilities.
United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing Co., manufactured the Delta II rocket with a Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne RS-27A engine, which is made in Canoga Park.
The satellite is slated to provide weather information for military and civil users.
Mary Glackin, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Assn.’s deputy undersecretary for Oceans and Atmosphere, said it will "make America a more weather-ready nation."
-- W.J. Hennigan
Photo: Liftoff of the NPOESS Preparatory Project, or NPP, aboard a Delta II rocket at Space Launch Complex-2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base. Credit: NASA / Bill Ingalls