California launch of new U.S. weather satellite postponed

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NASA develops and builds the instruments, spacecraft and ground system and launches the satellites for NOAA. "This transition of the second flight unit to the Joint Polar Satellite Systems not only capitalizes fully on that previous experience, but also demonstrates our commitment to developing a long-term partnership with both NASA and NOAA on this program".

"The successful contract transition is an important milestone for the Joint Polar Satellite Systems, since ATMS is one of its key operational weather sensors", said Dr. Steve Toner, vice president of Northrop Grumman's Overhead Persistent Infrared and Azusa Programs business unit. The first ATMS was completed in 2005 and has been integrated on the NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP) satellite, which is scheduled to launch in October. "The JPSS satellite system will provide advanced forecasting on not only hurricanes, but also unsafe weather events threatening communities across the United States".

With JPSS-1, the threat of a "satellite gap" due to aging satellite fleet should be allayed. Each will circle the globe 14 times a day, 50 minutes apart and provide full, global observations for USA weather prediction.

The JPSS-1 spacecraft was built by Ball Aerospace in Boulder, Colo.

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The new satellite will also deliver critical observations during severe weather events like hurricanes, tornadoes and blizzards and is created to help improve forecasts three-to-seven days ahead of a severe weather event. "JPSS will continue this trend", he added. The series of four JPSS satellites are expected to span 20 years.

It remained unclear when another attempt would occur, but mission managers were tentatively planning to try again for liftoff at 1:47 a.m. Wednesday.

According to the NOAA press report, "JPSS-1, which will be known as NOAA-20 when it reaches polar orbit, will join the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP), a joint NOAA-NASA weather satellite, giving the US the benefit of two, sophisticated polar satellites in the same orbit".

The satellite is slated to launch aboard a Delta II rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 4:47 a.m. ET Tuesday.

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