Friday, June 20, 2008

The Ocean Surface Topography Mission (OSTM), or Jason-2, satellite, has been launched into low Earth orbit. A Delta II rocket carrying the satellite lifted off from Space Launch Complex 2W at the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, United States, at 07:46 GMT this morning. Spacecraft separation occurred around an hour later, and the solar panels on the satellite have deployed.

OSTM is a collaboration between the American space agency, NASA, and the French space agency, CNES. It will study and map the surface of the oceans from space. The Delta II rocket flew in the 7320 configuration, the lowest capacity variant, with three solid rocket motors, and no third stage. The exact launch time was 07:46:25.192 GMT.

This is the third launch of a Delta II carrier rocket to be conducted so far this year, and the 137th overall. The next Delta II is scheduled to launch in mid-late August, with the GeoEye-1 civilian imagery satellite, however A GPS satellite launch which was delayed from mid July to an unconfirmed date could potentially occur before this. This is the 32nd orbital launch of 2008.