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It’s A Bird, It’s A Plane, It’s A SpaceX Rocket; Vandenberg AFB Launch Hurls JPL-Built Instruments Into Orbit Saturday

Published on Friday, November 20, 2020 | 1:33 pm
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches Nov. 21, 2020, from Space Launch Complex-4 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 9:17 a.m. PST (12:17 p.m . EST) carrying the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite. (Photo credit: NASA)

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich Satellite lifted off from Space Launch Complex-4 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California today,  at 9:17 a.m., carrying a payload which includes three instruments built by JPL.

The rocket will be carrying NASA’s Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite, which will join a nearly 30-year project to measure global sea-surface height, while also providing atmospheric data that officials say will improve weather forecasts, climate modeling and hurricane tracking.

Three science instruments aboard the satellite were built by Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena — the Advanced Microwave Radiometer, the Global Navigation Satellite System-Radio Occultation and the Laser Retroreflector Array.

Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich will be joined in the mission in 2025 by a twin satellite dubbed Sentinel-6B.

The satellite launching Saturday is named after Freilich, NASA’s former Earth Science Division director.

The ocean-monitoring program was developed by the European Space Agency in conjunction with NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Should Saturday’s launch need to be delayed for any reason, there are backup launch windows on each subsequent day, beginning 12 minutes earlier each day, according to NASA.

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