Vandy Launches Weather Sat

Airmen at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., successfully aided the first launch of the year from the West Coast with the Feb. 6 early morning launch of the NOAA-N Prime polar-orbiting weather satellite, a joint effort of NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The launch, carried out aboard a Delta II booster, had been delayed from earlier in the week because of problems with the launch pad, space launch complex-2. Vandenberg has another 10 launches scheduled for this year, which, Col. David Buck, commander of the 30th Space Wing, said makes for a “busy year.” Once the NOAA-N Prime arrived in its orbit, it became NOAA-19, joining NOAA-18, the other operational polar-orbiting weather. According to a NOAA release, NOAA-19 is “unique” in that it has “a new data collection system that will relay meteorological, oceanographic data—even track migration patterns of wildlife—to help researchers improve their study of Earth’s environment.” (For more on the NOAA-N Prime sats) (Vandenberg report)