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News: 2006

2006 CloudSat News

3 October 2006

  • On 26 September 2006, the CloudSat spacecraft entered a safe mode known as Sun Acquire. In sun acquire mode, the spacecraft and the radar are safe but the radar is not operating. The spacecraft was successfully returned to Earth-pointing mode on 28 September, and the radar was re-activated on 3 October 2006.

17 August 2006

  • CloudSat continues to operate and collect data without incident.
  • At the request of the Science Team, the project implemented a slight off-nadir pointing of the CPR (0.16° along-track in the forward-looking direction) at 20:16:46 UTC on 15 August 2006 in order to reduce ground clutter in the CPR data.

  • The CALIPSO-CloudSat Validation Experiment (CC-VEx) was conducted over the southeastern United States and adjacent waters from 26 July to 14 August 2006. Two aircraft were based at Robins AFB in middle Georgia (shown above): the NASA ER-2, carrying a cloud radar (CRS), lidar (CPL), and MODIS simulator (MAS), and the WMI Learjet, which carried various cloud probes for in-situ sampling. A third aircraft, the NASA King Air B200, carrying a high spectral resolution lidar (HSRL), was based at NASA Langley Research Center in Virginia. A total of 12 flights were conducted under CloudSat/CALIPSO satellite overpasses, including 4 night flights, observing a variety of thin and thick cirrus, mid-level clouds, precipitating clouds, and aerosols. (Photo: Raymond Crayton/Robins AFB)

3 August 2006


  • Click the image for a larger version
  • The CALIPSO-CloudSat Validation Experiment (CC-VEx) is well underway. On 30 July, the NASA Dryden ER-2 (airborne radar, lidar and MODIS simulator) and the WMI Learjet (in situ measurements) conducted comparison flights with the Cloudsat and CALIPSO (CC) satellite missions along a track extending off the coast of the southeastern US. The mission was noteworthy for observing a wide spectrum of cloud and aerosol features. The validation experiment continues until 14 August.

    [CloudSat radar imagery courtesy of the CloudSat team. Cloud Radar System (CRS) courtesy of G. Heymsfield (NASA GSFC). Cloud Profiling Lidar (CPL) measurements courtesy of M. McGill (NASA GSFC) and MODIS Airborne Simulator (MAS) observations courtesy of J. Meyers/R. Dominguez (NASA ARC).]

  • A routine CPR calibration was performed on 2 August over the Indian Ocean by slewing the spacecraft off-nadir and observing the ocean at an incidence angle of 10°. Information gathered from this operation will be used to fine-tune he parameters used in the Level-1B processing activities.

  • Click on the image to pop up a new window, showing the MODIS image and the CloudSat profile.
  • At approximately 0553 UTC (1:53 am EDT) on 2 August 2006, CloudSat flew over the eye of Typhoon Prapiroon as it approached southern China. (Click the image for a larger image with the CloudSat radar cross-sectional view along the ge line.)

    The upper image is from the MODIS instrument on the NASA Aqua satellite, to an idea of how the storm looked from the top. The bottom image is from NASA's new CloudSat satellite. The CloudSat radar flies in an on-orbit formation with the Aqua satellite, approximately one minute behind, as part of the A-Train constellation of satellites.

    (Image: NASA/JPL/The Cooperative Institute for in the Atmosphere (CIRA), Colorado State University)

27 July 2006

  • The CALIPSO-CloudSat Validation Experiment began this week, based at AFB in Warner Robins, GA. Primary aircraft for CloudSat validation include NASA ER-2 (shown above departing Edwards AFB), carrying cloud radar, lidar, a MODIS simulator, and the WMI Learjet, carrying cloud probes for in-situ sampling. The experiment will run through mid-August. (Photo: Tony Landis/NASA)

  • The CloudSat Data Processing Center (DPC) at CIRA continues to post Level data to the quicklook data site. Level 1 and Level 2 data products are going through checkout and will be released to the science community soon.
  • On Thursday, 20 July 2006, CloudSat had a successful Post Launch Review (PLAR).

  • Click on the image for a PDF mosiac version

    Hurricane Daniel intensified between 18 and 23 July in the central Pacific Ocean east of Hawaii. NASA's new CloudSat satellite was able to capture and confirm this transformation as seen in this series of side-view images. (Click the mage above for the multi-image PDF file.) The top images (from GOES-11) give idea of how the storm looked from the top. The bottom images are CloudSat profiles. From one side of the storm to the other, on 18 July, Daniel to be approximately 700 km. The scale from top to bottom is approximately 30 , so the clouds in this hurricane reach heights of about 20 km. On 19 July, Daniel appears to intensify and became more compact as its maximum sustained winds ncreased from 75 to 90 mph. By 23 July, the winds had intensified to greater than 100 mph. (Images: NASA/JPL/The Cooperative Institute for Research in the sphere (CIRA), Colorado State University/NOAA)

20 July 2006


  • Click on the image for a larger version

    This side-view image of Tropical Storm Beryl (SE of the North Carolina t) was taken from NASA's CloudSat satellite on 18 July at approximately 2:10 PM EDT (1810 UTC). Notice that the solid line along the bottom of the panel, is the ocean surface, disappears in center of the storm, an area of intense cipitation. It is likely that the precipitation rate in that area exceeds 30 hr (1.18 inches/hour), based on previous studies. From one side of the storm the other, Beryl appears to be approximately 800 km (497 miles). The scale top to bottom is approximately 30 km (18 miles), so the clouds in this storm reach heights exceeding 15 km (9 miles). (Images: NASA/JPL/The ve Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA), Colorado State University)

13 July 2006

  • The 3-second offset of CPR data vs. the digital topographic database was used by incorrectly applying an offset between the CPR M1 mirror reference and the alignment cube reference frame. Two tables were uploaded to the aft to resolve this problem.
  • CloudSat successfully performed its DMU maneuver on 12 July at 07:44:43 , as planned. The nominal target delta-v was 3.7 cm/s and the achieved delta-v as 3.9 cm/s, for a 5.4% overburn. This execution error is within the allowable tolerance. After the maneuver, CloudSat was moving towards CALIPSO at tely 1 km/day. We are currently estimating the next formation flying e maneuver will occur on or around 28 July, assuming the atmospheric density ues stay reasonably close to what they are now.

  • Click either image for enlarged versions

    CloudSat passed over Hurricane Bud in the Pacific Ocean southwest of at approximately 2:30 AM PDT (0930 UTC) on 12 July 2006. The ground track of loudSat's radar is shown as the A-B line in the GOES-11 images above (click for larger versions). While the GOES-11 image shows a large horizontal area, at's radar provides information about the vertical distribution of clouds and ecipitation along the ground track, as shown in the lower images. The scale in the radar images from left to right (B to A) is about 1300 km (808 miles), and he vertical scale is 30 km (18.6 miles). Colors in the radar images indicate e strength of the scattered radar energy, termed the reflectivity. Cloudsat w very nearly over the center of the hurricane, but at this early stage of the torm the eye is very small and not well developed. (Images: NASA/JPL/The ative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA), Colorado State /NOAA)

22 June 2006

  • The CloudSat radar experienced a 7-minute timeout after a body current occured on Friday afternoon (16 June). This resulted in a 7-minute data gap ound 2048 UTC on 16 June. The 7-minute timeout -- a change in radar mode from perational to receive-only -- is a pre-programmed response to a body current p event. After 7 minutes, the radar returned to operational mode and is ming nominally.
  • The University of Wyoming airborne cloud radar flew under a CloudSat ss in Northern California on 16 June. The next underflight opportunity is on e 23rd, followed by the final opportunity on the 30th.
  • As of 21 June, 2006 the RSC has captured 99.93% of the data taken by the cloud radar and the CloudSat Data Processing Center has ingested and processed % of that data through Level 1.

15 June 2006

  • At approximately 1000 UTC on 14 June 2006, CloudSat entered its "control box" with respect to CALIPSO. This means that CloudSat's groundtrack is within 1 km of CALIPSO's lidar groundtrack and is maintaining an along-track separation approximately 10 to 15 seconds before CALIPSO. Today (15 June), CloudSat successfully executed a small orbit-lowering maneuver of about 5.5 cm/sec to settle into this position and stop CloudSat's drift relative to CALIPSO. This was executed so accurately that the next adjustment would be in August. However, there is a current plan by CALIPSO to maneuver in July, and if that takes place, we will need to maneuver then.

  • CloudSat tracked across tropical storm Alberto as it spun over the Gulf of Mexico the morning of 12 June 2006 as reported on NASA's Planetary Photojournal. This image comparison shows how CloudSat "sees" such storms differently than conventional weather satellites. The CloudSat image is compared with images obtained at nearly the same time from two National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Weather Service tools that are mainstays for monitoring the development and movement of tropical cyclones: the NEXRAD storm detection radar, which maps out precipitation patterns for that portion of the storm that comes into its range, and the GOES-12 (Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite) infrared imager. CloudSat sees the storm outside the range of NEXRAD and provides significantly greater vertical detail compared to the GOES satellite. NEXRAD, for example, can only see out to about 402 kilometers (250 miles), and so could not see the portion of the storm that CloudSat was flying over at the time. GOES-12 only sees the very top of the clouds, and cannot provide any detail about what is being seen beneath the cloud tops.

    The CloudSat data show a storm that reaches about 16 kilometers (10 miles) in height and extends perhaps 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) in scale. The green line at the bottom of the CloudSat image is the radar echo of the Earth's surface. Where this line starts to disappear (change color) under the storm is where the rainfall is heaviest. Very heavy rainfall can be seen over about 400 kilometers (249 miles) of the satellite track. Cirrus clouds can also been seen out ahead of the storm (near letter A) -- this is also evident in the GOES-12 image. A smaller thunderstorm is visible in the CloudSat image under that cirrus cloud cover near the letter A. That storm is completely hidden from view in the GOES infrared image.

  • The Wyoming Cloud Radar flew a track under the CloudSat overpass on 2 June near Mt. Lassen, California and another on 7 June off the coast of California in a marine stratus layer. This is a cloud type that is known to challenge the radar sensitivity, and we will be studying the results closely.

6 June 2006

  • All radar and spacecraft systems continue to perform nominally.
  • A radar calibration maneuver was performed today over the Indian Ocean. Prior to the maneuver, the radar was commanded from transmit to receive-only. The maneuver was successfully completed, and the radar was returned to transmit mode.
  • To find out where CloudSat is and where it will be for the next 16 days, check out this website. The tools on this website were developed by Louis Nguyen at the Langley Research Center.

2 June 2006

  • CloudSat transitioned to its operational mode when the Cloud Profiling Radar (CPR) was activated around 1443 UTC on Friday, 2 June 2006. The CPR is operating normally. Data is being flowed from the RSC in Albuquerque to CIRA at Colorado State University. Quicklook data products are being created approximately 1 hour after download. CloudSat's measurement mission is underway!
  • The Wyoming Cloud Radar flew a track under the CloudSat overpass near Mt. Lassen, CA on 2 June.
  • Trim Burn No. 2 was executed early this morning (2 June). This 5 cm/sec burn refined our frozen orbit parameters and imparted a slow drift back toward CALIPSO.
  • Near-term maneuver milestones
      TM3 (Trim Burn No. 3), 15 Jun 06

1 June 2006

  • With the successful completion of OR2 (orbit raise maneuver no. 2 - segments A & B) on 27 May, the CloudSat spacecraft is now part of the A-Train Constellation. Delta-V magnitudes (and execution errors) for segment A & B were 1.396 m/s (0.11% under burn) and 1.276 m/s (1.0% under burn), respectively. Up to this point in time only 5.6 kg of approximately 76 kg of hydrazine propellant has been used. Remaining maneuvers are for minor adjustments only (i.e. trim burns).
  • The inclination trim burn performed on 28 May was successful, with a -3.47% error. The drift rate with respect to Aqua and CALIPSO is so low that the TM1 manuever (29 May) is no longer necessary.
  • On 30 May, it was decided that it was not necessary to make a Nodal Shift adjustment. We are slowly drifting back into our "operational box" that would establish us formation flying with CALIPSO. We will await the results of the CALIPSO maneuver on 31 May to determine when the next adjustment will be made (ie TM2).
  • CALIPSO joined the A-Train on 31 May. CloudSat plans to make an in- orbit trim adjustment once CALIPSO's location is established.
  • Activation of CloudSat's Cloud Profiling Radar is now planned for Friday, 2 June 2006. Check-out periods for the various CloudSat data products will begin soon after transition to operate mode.
  • Near-term maneuver milestones
    • TM2 (Trim Burn No. 2), 03 Jun 06
    • TM3 (Trim Burn No. 3), 09 Jun 06

25 May 2006

  • The 94-GHz Cloud Profiling Radar (CPR) of the CloudSat Mission was successfully transitioned to Operate Mode on 20 May. It was a perfect beginning because every engineering parameter being monitored reached the predicted range of values. More importantly, CPR was measuring clouds and precipitation within minutes afterwards. More quicklook images can be found at the CloudSat Data Processing Center web site [link to www.cloudsat.cira.colostate.edu] at the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA) of Colorado State University. CPR was in the Operate Mode continuously for about 4 hours.
  • The two nodal shift burns were successfully completed on 22 and 23 May 2006. [Note: Nodal shift burns are required to ensure that CloudSat and CALIPSO will overfly the same point on the ground even though they will be spatially and temporally separated in the A-Train Constellation.] The planned delta-V for the two burns achieved execution errors of 4.97% and 0.43% (under burn), which is well below the requirement of 10%.
  • Orbital raise maneuver number 1 (segments A & B) was completed on 25 May. Later analysis of the maneuver indicated that the performance of segments A and B were within 0.19% and 0.49%.
  • Near-term maneuver milestones [Note: the trim burn schedule is subject to change]
    • OR2A & OR2B (Orbit Raise Maneuver No. 2, Segments A & B), 27 May 06
    • TM1 (Trim Burn No. 1), 29 May 06
    • Tno (Nodal Shift Trim Burn), 02 Jun 06
    • Tinc (Inclination Change Trim Burn), 02 Jun 06
    • TM2 (Trim Burn No. 2), 03 Jun 06
    • TM3 (Trim Burn No. 3), 09 Jun 06

20 May 2006

  • After determining an orbital segment well away from known radio astronomy sites and having favorable coverage for ground control, CloudSat's Cloud Profiling Radar was activated for about four hours on Saturday, 20 May for a brief test. Immediately after activation, the satellite passed over a small squall line in the North Atlantic, providing the first image of clouds for the CloudSat mission. (Click here for a larger image showing the orbital track or here for a high-resolution image.) The radar was switched back to receive-only mode at the end of this test and will remain in this mode until CloudSat is established in the A-Train formation at the end of the month.
  • The radar activation allowed us to perform an end-to-end test of the flight and ground system. Cloud data acquired by the CPR was downlinked to the RSC in Albuquerque, transferred to CIRA in Fort Collins, and processed through Level 1B. Quick-look images were available in less than one hour from data downlink.
  • The image above is the first 126 seconds (~800 km along-track) of data from the CloudSat Cloud Profiling Radar, which was activated for a total of approximately 3 hours and 45 minutes. This section of data was taken over the North Atlantic approaching Greenland. It shows a frontal system with convection complete with bright band under cirrus overcast -- something passive sensors would never see. It is precipitating and we guess that it is light precipitation. The rest of the data are equally stunning, showing shallow clouds, ITCZ convection, polar storms, and too much good stuff to mention (in the words of our PI).
  • The radar was returned to receive-only mode (sigh...). Permanent radar activation will not occur before 31 May.

18 May 2006

  • The Closed-Loop Calibration burn was successfully completed on 12 May.
  • The Open-Loop Calibration Burn was successfully completed on 13 May. The performance error was -9.7% vs. a 12% acceptable error. This is a significant milestone, in that we have completed all spacecraft commissioning activities leading to the first nodal shift burn (scheduled for 22 May).
  • CPR electronics were activated on 15 May. The telemetry values compare well with those obtained in thermal vacuum tests at the spacecraft facility.
  • The CPR mirror was successfully rotated to the HPA "B" side on 16 May.
  • Two practice turns over the North and South poles (simulating cross track burns) were performed in the blind on the night of 16 May. Data at the RSC indicated the turns were successful. BATC engineers are still evaluating the data.
  • Near-term milestones
      Maneuvers
    • - Dno1 (Nodal Shift Burn 1), 22 May
    • - Dno2 (Nodal Shift Burn 2), 23 May
    • - Orbit Raise #1, 25 May
    • - Orbit Raise #2, 27 May

      CPR (Cloud Profiling Radar Instrument)
    • - CPR Operate Mode (4 hours only), 20 May

11 May 2006

  • The CloudSat spacecraft remains healthy and safe.
  • Several spacecraft practice rotations (attitude maneuvers) were successfully performed. These rotations demonstrated the ability to rotate the spacecraft from instrument nadir-pointing to different attitudes that aligned the thrusters along desired delta V vector directions (and back again to nadir).
  • The attitude error threshold and persistence limits were changed from 6° and 30 seconds to 30° and 60 seconds. The new limits are still adequate to ensure spacecraft safety, but lessen the probability of a premature fault trip during rotations or transitions from sun acquire to point state.
  • The control frame for point-standby state was changed from science to body frame to help ensure that the star tracker fields-of-view are not obstructed by the sun or Earth.
  • Near term milestones
      Maneuvers
    • - CLC (Closed-Loop Calibration Burn), 12 May 06
    • - OLC (Open-Loop Calibration Burn), 13 May 06
    • - Dno1 (Nodal Shift Burn 1), 22 May 06
    • - Dno2 (Modal Shift Burn 2), 23 May 06

      CPR (Cloud Profiling Radar) Instrument
    • Electronics Turn On, 15 May 06
    • M6 Mirror from Stowed to Operational Position, 16 May 06
    • Transition to Receive Mode, 20 May 06

4 May 2006

  • All passes with the Air Force Satellite Control Network (AFSCN) continue normally.
  • Two rotations of the spacecraft were successfully performed on 4 May. These rotations demonstrated the ability to rotate the spacecraft from nadir pointing to an attitude that aligns the thrusters along the minus-velocity vector (and back again to nadir). These rotations are to be used during the checkout burn and the closed-loop burn, scheduled for next week.
  • Coarse sun sensor readings and a higher than expected Earth albedo level (that caused false sun presence indications on one or more sun sensors) were affecting the ability of the spacecraft to fully transition from 'sun acquire' to 'point' state. Spacecraft engineers downloaded the data and determined that the some of the limits needed to be widened for the transition to be successful. It was determined that the proposed change of limits would pose no risk to the spacecraft. New table uploads were accomplished that modify the attitude limits and lengthen the time for the activity. On 3 May, the spacecraft maneuver-to-point was successful; the radar is nadir-pointed.
  • Further activities during CloudSat's first week on orbit included a propulsion system pressure check (with latch valves open), indicating that there are no thruster valve leaks, and several flight software table uploads, which were successfully accomplished.

29 April 2006

  • All planned CloudSat spacecraft activities up to this point in time have been successfully completed including activation of GPS (Global Positioning System) receiver no. 1. The flight system remains healthy and safe.

28 April 2006

  • The Delta II carrying both the CloudSat and CALIPSO spacecraft was successfully launched from Vandenberg AFB, CA today at 3:02:16.721 AM PDT.

    Image above: The Delta rocket carrying CloudSat and CALIPSO lifts off from Vandenberg AFB at 3:02:16 am PDT. Credit: Boeing/Thom Baur

  • CALIPSO spacecraft separation from the launch vehicle second stage occurred at approximately 4:04 AM PDT.
  • CloudSat spacecraft separation from the launch vehicle second stage occurred at approximately 4:40 AM PDT.
  • Orbit injection error was determined to be approximately 1.2 km (high).
  • A telecommunication link (i.e. command and telemetry) between the spacecraft and AFSCN (Air Force Satellite Control Network) stations was established.
  • Spacecraft temperatures are within the expected/nominal range.
  • Both solar array wings were deployed. The battery was verified to charge when the solar arrays are illuminated by the sun and provides electrical power when the spacecraft is in the umbra (Earth shadow) - average battery state-of-charge is approximately 85%.
  • First playback of spacecraft stored state-of-health data was successfully accomplished.

27 April 2006

  • Following a thorough data analysis, engineers and mission managers concluded the unusual temperature sensor readings observed on the Delta II's second stage during the previous two launch attempts were primarily the result of higher temperature pressurization rates and are not indicative of any defect in the sensor itself. They concluded the sensor does not require replacement and can fly as is, allowing a launch attempt on Friday morning (28 April). Weather is not expected to be a concern for Friday morning's launch.
  • Thursday morning's planned launch of NASA's CloudSat and CALIPSO satellites from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., has been postponed at least 24 hours, to no earlier than Friday morning, April 28, at 3:02 a.m. PDT. Engineers and mission managers are assessing a suspect temperature sensor on the Boeing Delta II rocket's second stage that may require replacement.

26 April 2006

  • The launch of NASA's CloudSat and CALIPSO satellites from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., was scrubbed this morning at 1:24 a.m. PDT due to thick clouds. Launch has been rescheduled for Thursday, 27 April, at 3:02:37 a.m. PDT.

25 April 2006

  • NASA's CloudSat and CALIPSO (Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations) launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., was scrubbed this morning shortly before 3 a.m. PDT due to higher than allowable upper level wind conditions. The next launch attempt is tentatively set for Wednesday, 26 April, at 3:02 a.m. PDT, pending availability of all required Western Test Range assets.

23 April 2006

  • This morning's launch of NASA's CloudSat and CALIPSO (Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations) from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., has been postponed. The refueling aircraft required to maintain the radar tracking plane was unavailable to support a launch attempt today (Sunday). Mission managers are reviewing the next available launch opportunity.
  • The photo below shows CloudSat and CALIPSO on the Delta II last night (Saturday night) before this morning's launch attempt.

    The CALIPSO and CloudSat satellites are set to launch at 3:02 a.m. PDT, Sunday April 23rd from Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB) on missions to study clouds and aerosols, tiny particles in the air. CALIPSO and CloudSat are set to fly into orbit aboard a Boeing Delta II rocket. The Delta II is designed to boost medium- sized satellites and robotic explorers into space. NASA selected a model 7420-10C for this mission, which is a two-stage rocket equipped with four strap-on motors and a protective 10-foot payload fairing. (Photo Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

21 April 2006

  • Today's launch was scrubbed at T-48 seconds due to loss of the primary and backup phone communications between the Mission Directors Center at Vandenberg and the Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) Space Command in Toulouse, France. The communications loss is being evaluated.
  • The photo below shows the tower rollback last night before the launch attempt this morning. (Click for a larger version.)

19 April 2006

  • Workers at Space Launch Complex 2 fueled the Delta II second stage Tuesday (18 April) for flight with storable hypergolic propellants. Officials also conducted a launch countdown dress rehearsal.
  • No significant issues or concerns were found during the Flight Readiness Review on Monday (17 April). Technicians installed the payload fairing around the two spacecraft on April 14 and are conducting a routine state-of-health check today.
  • Plans call for the RP-1 fuel, highly refined kerosene, to be loaded on the rocket's first stage on Thursday afternoon. Early that evening, the mobile service tower will be retracted from around the rocket. Liquid oxygen will be loaded into the first stage during the terminal countdown sequence that starts at 4 a.m. EDT Friday. There is currently an 80 percent chance of acceptable weather conditions for launch.

14 April 2006

  • CloudSat/CALIPSO were encapsulated inside the payload fairing on Friday, 14 April 2006. The photos below show the stacked spacecraft atop the Delta II before the installation of the payload fairing and partway through the process. The third photo shows a closer view of the CALIPSO spacecraft atop the DPAF containing CloudSat. (click for larger versions, opens in new window.)

12 April 2006

  • The Flight Program Verification, an integrated electrical and mechanical flight test involving the Delta II and the CALIPSO/CloudSat payload, was successfully completed on Wednesday, 12 April 2006. Following the test, technicians began installation of the launch vehicle ordnance.
  • CloudSat Media Day at Colorado State University was held on Tuesday, 11 April in Fort Collins.

9 April 2006

  • The CloudSat and CALIPSO spacecraft were installed into the environmentally controlled payload transportation canister on 7 April and successfully moved to the launch pad and mated to the Delta II launch vehicle on 8 April 2006. The photos below show the "canning" process at the Astrotech facility, the move to the launch pad, and the hoisting onto the launch vehicle. (click for larger version, opens in new window.)

6 April 2006

  • NASA successfully completed a flight simulation of the Delta II rocket on 4 April at Space Launch Complex 2 at Vandenberg AFB.
  • The Delta Mission Readiness Briefing held at NASA HQ was successfully completed.
  • CloudSat spacecraft battery reconditioning was successfully completed on 1 April.

30 March 2006

  • CloudSat GPMC was successfully held on Monday 27 March.
  • The nine-day spacecraft battery reconditioning began on Saturday, 25 March.

23 March 2006

  • Kennedy Space Center notified the CloudSat Project that the Western Range has approved the 20 April 2006 CloudSat-CALIPSO launch date. Our first launch attempt is therefore scheduled for 3:01 AM PDT (1001 UTC) on 20 April 2006.
  • Launch vehicle FTS batteries were activated on 19 March 2006. The batteries have a 45-day "wet life".
  • The Delta-GPMC has been rescheduled to 27 March 2006.

16 March 2006

  • Boeing submitted the Green Sheet to the Range requesting a 20 April 2006 launch date.
  • CloudSat staff is preparing for the Delta GPMC which is scheduled for 28 March 2006 to support the new proposed Launch Readiness Date.

2 March 2006

  • CloudSat prepared and submitted to Boeing the input for the next contingency detailed launch trajectory analysis (DTO). The launch period for this analysis is 16 May to 16 June 2006. This contingency DTO is required due to the changing solar geometry as we approach the summer solstice. Boeing will analyze and provide the final DTO in 6 weeks.

23 February 2006

  • CloudSat Management, NASA Headquarters, CALIPSO, and Boeing attended a launch schedule-planning meeting at KSC last week. All participants reached a tentative launch schedule for an early April launch date.
  • A Mission Operations Working Group meeting was hosted by CIRA in Fort Collins last week. Team members from RSC, BATC, and JPL were in attendance. The CIRA team presented a detailed explanation of the workings of the data processing center, including a demonstration of data following through the various processing systems, and a series of discussions were held on data delivery and timing issues.

16 February 2006

  • The TWP-ICE field campaign in Darwin, Australia was successfully completed. The JPL Airborne Cloud Radar was deployed on 14 flights for a total of 58 hours of flight time, including flights during overpasses of the Aqua, Aura and Terra spacecraft. The data accumulated over the nearly 4-week campaign will be used to refine and improve CloudSat data product algorithms.

9 February 2006

  • CloudSat prepared and submitted to Boeing the input for the next detailed launch trajectory analysis (DTO). The launch period for this analysis is 15 April to 15 May 2006. This new DTO is required due to the changing solar geometry as we approach the summer solstice. Boeing will analyze and provide the final DTO in 6 weeks.

2 February 2006

  • Boeing machinists in three states voted Wednesday to ratify a new contract and end a walkout of about 1,500 workers that began in November. The machinists will return to work on Monday.

26 January 2006

  • All spacecraft launch processing activities remain on hold as the Boeing labor union strike enters its thirteenth week.
  • The 94 GHz Airborne Cloud Radar is performing well during the TWP-ICE field campaign in Darwin, Australia. Three successful flights on the Twin Otter were conducted thus far.
  • Project staff from JPL, Ball and USAF/Det12 attended a 4 day refresher course on the CloudSat instrument and spacecraft at Kirtland AFB.

19 January 2006

  • All spacecraft launch processing activities remain on hold as the Boeing labor union strike enters its twelfth week.

6 January 2006

  • CALIPSO and CloudSat are installed in the Dual Payload Attach Fitting at the Astrotech payload processing facilities on north Vandenberg. They will remain there until a launch date is determined and then be prepared for transportation to NASA's Space Launch Complex 2. Further Delta II preparations at the launch pad are on hold until the CALIPSO/CloudSat payloads arrive for installation atop the second stage.