REDONDO BEACH, Calif., July 15, 2004 (PRIMEZONE) -- NASA's Aura Earth Observing System (EOS) spacecraft, built by Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) was successfully launched this morning at 3:01:59 a.m. PDT. Aura will provide the most comprehensive space-based measurements of atmospheric gases ever taken, revolutionizing the way scientists study and understand changes in the Earth's climate, air quality and ozone layer.
For more information about Aura, please visit this link on the NASA web site: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/aura/main/index.html .
The Aura spacecraft lifted off Space Launch Complex 2 at the Western Test Range of Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., aboard a Delta II rocket. Spacecraft separation occurred sixty-four minutes after launch at 4:06 a.m. PDT, inserting Aura into a phasing orbit 422 miles (680 kilometers) above the Earth. Over the next several weeks, Aura will be moved to its final orbit of 438 miles (705 kilometers) through a series of boost maneuvers.
"Aura's successful launch marks the beginning of its six-year journey that will help to answer questions about changes in our life-sustaining atmosphere," said Dana Southwood, Northrop Grumman Aura program manager. "We're proud that our flight-proven spacecraft, designed especially for remote sensing, is enabling this important NASA mission. We're looking forward to watching Aura achieve the same level of success as its sibling spacecraft, Aqua."
The four, newly developed state-of-the-art instruments aboard Aura will become operational in stages over the next six months, starting with Microwave Limb Sounder and followed by High Resolution Dynamics Limb Sounder, Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer, and the Ozone Monitoring Instrument. Science operations will start approximately three months after launch.
Aura is the second EOS satellite built by Northrop Grumman as part of the Common Spacecraft program, and the third satellite in NASA's first EOS series that includes Terra and Aqua. Northrop Grumman applied the lessons learned building Aqua to achieve quality, cost and productivity improvements on Aura.
Northrop Grumman has decades of experience building scientific instruments and spacecraft for scientific remote sensing missions. The company is applying its expertise to operational missions as the prime contractor for the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System.
Northrop Grumman Space Technology, based in Redondo Beach, Calif., develops a broad range of systems at the leading edge of space, defense and electronics technology. The sector creates products for U.S. military and civilian customers that contribute significantly to the nation's security and leadership in science and technology.
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