Thursday, May 10, 2012

CO2 Research Satellite Readys for 2014 Launch

NASA's New Carbon-Counting Instrument Leaves the Nest

Technicians prep the OCO-2 instrument for shipping at JPL. Technicians prep the OCO-2 instrument for shipping at JPL. The instrument consists of three parallel, high-resolution spectrometers, integrated into a common structure and fed by a common telescope. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
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May 10, 2012
PASADENA, Calif. - Its construction now complete, the science instrument that is the heart of NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) spacecraft - NASA's first mission dedicated to studying atmospheric carbon dioxide - has left its nest at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., and has arrived at its integration and test site in Gilbert, Ariz.

A truck carrying the OCO-2 instrument left JPL before dawn on Tuesday, May 9, to begin the trek to Orbital Science Corporation's Satellite Manufacturing Facility in Gilbert, southeast of Phoenix, where it arrived that afternoon. The instrument will be unpacked, inspected and tested. Later this month, it will be integrated with the Orbital-built OCO-2 spacecraft bus, which arrived in Gilbert on April 30.

Once technicians ensure the spacecraft is clean of any contaminants, the observatory's integration and test campaign will kick off. That campaign will be conducted in two parts, with the first part scheduled for completion in October. The observatory will then be stored in Gilbert for about nine months while the launch vehicle is prepared. The integration and test campaign will then resume, with completion scheduled for spring 2014. OCO-2 will then be shipped to Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., in preparation for a launch as early as the summer of 2014.


Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
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