The booster will carry the first in a series of four satellites for the Joint Polar Satellite System, JPSS-1. JPSS is a collaborative program between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and its acquisition agent, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
"Eighty-five percent of the data flowing into our weather forecast models come from polar-orbiting satellites, such as Suomi NPP and the new JPSS series", said Louis W. Uccellini, Ph.D., director of NOAA's National Weather Service. "JPSS will continue this trend".
This next-generation weather satellite - known as Joint Polar Satellite System-1 - promises "a leap in data collection and quality equivalent to going from an old flip-phone to an iPhone X", said meteorologist Ryan Maue of weather.us, a meteorological firm. JPSS will provide more detailed information about atmospheric temperature and air moisture leading to more accurate near-term weather predictions.
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The JPSS-1 spacecraft was built by Ball Aerospace in Boulder, Colo. Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems built the Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder and the Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System instrument.
Ground crews at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California retracted a mobile gantry away from the Delta 2 rocket Monday afternoon, revealing the 128-foot-tall (39-meter) booster on its launch pad awaiting liftoff with a new polar-orbiting weather observatory. This interagency effort (JPSS) is the latest generation of USA polar-orbiting, non-geosynchronous environmental satellites.
NASA launch manager Omar Baez confirmed that up until 4 minutes before liftoff, the only issue launch controllers were tracking were a few boats in the boat exclusion area off the coast near Vandenberg Air Force Base, but then one parameter on the first stage also went out of limits.