A rocket carrying a new weather satellite was launched successfully from Vandenberg Air Force Base early Saturday, with plans to put the satellite in a polar orbit to help improve forecasting and hurricane tracking.
The Delta II rocket carrying the Joint Polar Satellite System-1, the first in a new series of polar-orbiting satellites, took off from Space Launch Complex 2 at 1:47 a.m., according to NASA.
About 63 minutes after liftoff, the JPSS-1 satellite had deployed its solar arrays and was operating on its own power, NASA reported, adding that it would become operational in three months, after its instruments have been tested.
Unlike geostationary satellites, which stay in a fixed position above Earth, the JPSS satellites will fly in a north-south orbit above both poles as the planet spins beneath. NASA said the JPSS-1 will be in an orbit with a 1:30 p.m. “local time of ascending node,” meaning every time it crosses the equator, it will be 1:30 p.m. on the ground below it.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the JPSS satellites will cross the equator 14 times each day, providing data for forecasting and delivering observations during hurricanes, tornadoes and blizzards. They will also monitor droughts, fires, poor air quality and harmful coastal waters, NOAA says.
The satellites will download their data to stations in the Arctic and Antarctic.
Saturday’s launch had been scrubbed three times, most recently Wednesday morning because of winds. The Lompoc Record reported that the launch was scrubbed Tuesday because of an issue with the rocket’s first stage, and Nov. 10 because of a faulty battery.
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4:15 a.m.: This article was updated with the satellite operating on its own power.
This article was originally published at 2:45 a.m.