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27 October 2011

NPP Readies for Launch

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – At Vandenberg Air Force Base's Space Launch Complex-2 in California, technicians monitor the movement of a section of the clamshell-shaped Delta payload fairing as it encloses NASA’s National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System Preparatory Project (NPP) spacecraft. The fairing will protect the spacecraft from the impact of aerodynamic pressure and heating during ascent and will be jettisoned once the spacecraft is outside the Earth's atmosphere. NPP represents a critical first step in building the next-generation of Earth-observing satellites. NPP will carry the first of the new sensors developed for this satellite fleet, now known as the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) to be launched in 2016. NPP is the bridge between NASA's Earth Observing System (EOS) satellites and the forthcoming series of JPSS satellites. The mission will test key technologies and instruments for the JPSS missions. NPP is targeted to launch Oct. 28 from Space Launch Complex-2 aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket.

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Photo credit: NASA/Mark P. Mackley, VAFB