A NASA photo shows an arc of light illuminating the pre-dawn sky at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, as a Delta II rocket launches with the NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP) spacecraft payload.
NASA and NOAA officials congratulated each other following the successful launch of the NPP spacecraft aboard a Delta II rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base. Ken Schwer, NPP Project Manager, led off a news conference about three hours after liftoff. He will be part of the team who will get the spacecraft checked out during the next several weeks so it can begin its Earth observing mission.
"Now the future of NPP starts and we look forward to NPP touching the rest of the world," Schwer said.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association is expected to use the data from NPP as part of its weather forecasting. NPP is designed to provide continuity with NASA's Earth Observing System satellites for climate observations and to provide the operational weather community with risk reduction for the next generation of weather satellites.
NPP will "make America a more weather-ready nation," said Mary Glackin, NOAA's deputy undersecretary for Oceans and Atmosphere. NPP is the first satellite mission to address the challenge of acquiring a wide range of land, ocean, and atmospheric measurements for Earth system science while simultaneously preparing to address operational requirements for weather forecasting.
The National Polar-Orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) program was originally a project of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the Department of Defense (DOD) to build one satellite system. But the program was restructured by the White House in February 2010. NOAA and NASA are now developing the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS). JPSS-1, an identical satellite to NPP, expected to launch about five years from now. NPP will test key technologies for the JPSS missions.
For more on the instrumentation of the NPP and JPSS missions, see the link below.