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Orbital Ships NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory Satellite To Launch Site

illustration onlyOCO is based on Orbital's LEOStar-2 configuration, on which several other NASA science satellite projects were produced, including the highly successful GALEX, SORCE and AIM missions in low-Earth orbit, as well as the Dawn deep space mission.
by Staff Writers
Dulles VA (SPX) Nov 12, 2008
Orbital Sciences has announced that it has shipped the Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) satellite to its launch site at Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB), California. On Saturday, November 8, the OCO satellite departed from the company's Dulles, Virginia facilities in a specialized shipping container after completing its design, development, manufacturing and testing process.

The spacecraft is due to arrive at VAFB on Tuesday, November 11 for integration and full system testing with Orbital's Taurus rocket that will launch the OCO satellite into low-Earth orbit (LEO) in early 2009.

Orbital built the OCO satellite for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The OCO project is managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California under the direction of the project's Principal Investigator Dr. David Crisp.

"The cross-country shipment of the OCO satellite from Virginia to California is the first leg of its journey into space, where it will collect and provide vital data to scientists studying the Earth's carbon cycle, a key element in understanding global climate change," said Mr. William Barnhart, Orbital's OCO satellite Program Manager.

"The manufacturing and testing process of the OCO satellite was completed without any major technical hurdles or schedule delays. We are on track to carry out the launch of OCO aboard our Taurus rocket in the early weeks of 2009."

After its launch into orbit, the OCO satellite will collect and disseminate precise global measurements of carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations in the Earth's atmosphere to scientists studying global climate change.

Dr. Crisp and his scientific team will analyze OCO data to improve our understanding of the natural processes and human activities that regulate the abundance and distribution of this important greenhouse gas. This improved understanding will enable more reliable forecasts of future changes in the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere and the effect that these changes may have on the Earth's climate.

The OCO satellite is one of seven scientific spacecraft that Orbital has built, or is in the process of building, for NASA that is based on the company's evolving line of LEOStar satellite platforms.

OCO is based on Orbital's LEOStar-2 configuration, on which several other NASA science satellite projects were produced, including the highly successful GALEX, SORCE and AIM missions in low-Earth orbit, as well as the Dawn deep space mission.

Later next year, Orbital will launch NASA's Glory satellite, another atmospheric monitoring spacecraft that is based on Orbital's original LEOStar-1, a smaller platform that has hosted three other space missions for various markets including high-resolution commercial imaging, military technology demonstration and space science investigation.

In the future, Orbital will introduce the LEOStar-3 bus, which will debut as the platform for the company's Cygnus cargo transportation spacecraft during the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services demonstration mission in 2010. Related Links
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Stanford CA (SPX) Nov 10, 2008
Uncertain as to how phytoplankton -- microscopic marine plants on which much of ocean life depends -- would respond to Arctic sea ice decline, researchers took advantage of NASA satellite images to show that the microscopic floating plants are teeming in regions of recent ice melt.

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