Aquarius on Delta II
Aquarius / SAC-D Aboard Delta II
Image Credit: NASA / Bill Ingalls

The Delta II 7320 launch vehicle carrying the Aquarius/SAC-D spacecraft is poised for liftoff at 7:20 AM Phoenix time (0020 UTC) from NASA’s Space Launch Complex 2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Weather is not expected to pose a problem; in fact, forecasters with the U.S. Air Force’s 30th Weather Squadron predict a zero percent chance of violating launch weather criteria.

The gantry was retracted overnight, revealing the Delta II standing on the launch pad. Launch managers and controllers are at their consoles now and liquid oxygen is flowing into the rocket’s first stage.

The launch is live on NASA TV.

The joint U.S./Argentinian Aquarius/Satélite de Aplicaciones Científicas (SAC)-D mission is designed to measure the salinity (the concentration of dissolved salts) at the ocean’s surface. Salinity is affected by the freshwater that is exchanged between the ocean, the atmosphere, sea ice and land around the world. Aquarius will study its impacts on ocean currents, weather and climate.

More than 85 percent of global evaporation and more than 75 percent of global precipitation occur over the ocean. The measurement of sea surface salinity will allow scientists to follow the ocean’s role in the Earth’s water cycle. Freshwater runoff from rivers and melting ice change salinity and affect the movement of water within the oceans of the world. Aquarius/SAC-D will provide important new information about how Earth’s freshwater moves between the ocean and atmosphere and around the globe

Aquarius/SAC-D is a collaboration between NASA and Argentina’s space agency, Comision Nacional de Actividades Espaciales (CONAE), with participation from Brazil, Canada, France and Italy. The Aquarius instrument was jointly built by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

Aquarius and Delta II
Delta II at L-minus 30 minutes
Image Credit: NASA TV

Aquarius Payload Faring
Aquarius Payload Faring
Image Credit: NASA TV

Launch in 30 minutes.

All systems are go.

Poling of all system is complete.

T-minus 10 minutes.

T-minus 5 minutes.

Coming up on a built in hold at T-minus 4 minutes. Launch in 15 minutes.

Weather is good. Upper level winds are green.

Final poling is ongoing prior to resuming the count at T-minus 4 minutes.

T-minus 3 minutes and counting.

T-minus 60 seconds.


2 minutes into the flight.

Main Engine Cutoff. Second stage separation. Second stage burn started.

5 minutes into the flight.

Delta II Launch
Image Credit: NASA TV

Delta II First Stage
Image Credit: NASA TV

At 11 minutes, we have second stage cutoff.

There is a 41 minute coast period before the second burn.

All systems remain green.

One thought on “Aquarius

  1. Pingback: June 2011 « NSS Phoenix Space News

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