Press Release

ICESAT/CHIPSAT Ready for launch Aboard Delta II Rocket on Jan. 10

By SpaceRef Editor
January 2, 2003
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The launch of the ICESat (Ice Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite) and CHIPSat (Cosmic Hot Interstellar Plasma Spectrometer) polar-orbiting satellites for NASA aboard a Boeing Delta II rocket has been retargeted to occur on Friday, Jan. 10. This launch date is predicated on the availability of the downrange instrumentation aircraft. Should the aircraft not be available that day due to other tracking support requirements, then launch will be rescheduled for Jan. 11. The aircraft’s status will not be known until completion of its other prior commitments during the week can be confirmed. Liftoff of the Delta II will be from NASA’s Space Launch Complex 2 (SLC-2) at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The 45-minute launch window on Jan. 10 -11 extends from 4:45 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. PST.

NASA’s Earth Science Enterprise spacecraft ICESat is a 661-pound satellite that will revolutionize our understanding of ice and its role in global climate change and how we protect and understand our home planet. It will help scientists determine if the global sea level is rising or falling. It will look at the ice sheets that blanket the Earth’s poles to see if they are growing or shrinking. It will assist in developing an understanding of how changes in the Earth’s atmosphere and climate effect polar ice masses and global sea level. The Geoscience Laser Altimeter System (GLAS) is the sole instrument on the satellite.

ICESat will be launched into a polar orbit of 375 statute miles. It will be a benchmark for the NASA Earth Observing System (EOS) series of spacecraft, supporting other satellites in this series now in orbit, and will complement other EOS spacecraft currently under development.

CHIPSat, a suitcase-size 131-pound satellite, will provide invaluable information into the origin, physical processes and properties of the hot gas contained in the interstellar medium. This can provide important clues about the formation and evolution of galaxies since the interstellar medium literally contains the seeds of future stars. When the gas cools and collapses, the gas forms clumps that can evolve into stars and planets. One of the biggest puzzles in astrophysics is the process that turns this very diffuse, hot and cold gas and dust into stars. CHIPSat will be launched into a polar orbit of 350 statute miles.


News media needing accreditation for the launch of ICESat/CHIPSat should fax their request on news organization letterhead to:

Public Affairs

NASA Resident Office

Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA

FAX: 805/605-3380

Those who have already applied for accreditation prior to the first launch attempt in December need not reapply. Other accreditation requests to cover the launch should be received by Wednesday, Jan. 8. For further information on launch accreditation, contact George Diller in NASA Public Affairs at 321/867-2468 or Lt. Kelly Gabel in U.S. Air Force 30th Space Wing Public Affairs at 805/606-3595.


The prelaunch news conference will be held on Thursday, Jan. 9 at 11 a.m. PST in the main conference room of the NASA Vandenberg Resident Office, Building 840, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Remote question-and-answer capability will be available at NASA Headquarters, Kennedy Space Center and Goddard Space Flight Center. Participants will be:

Chuck Dovale, NASA Launch Director
NASA Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

Kris Walsh, Director of NASA Programs
Boeing Expendable Launch Systems

Dr. Waleed Abdalati, Program Executive for Cryospheric Sciences
NASA Headquarters

Dr. Mark Hurwitz, CHIPSat Principal Investigator
University of California at Berkley

Captain Scott Lisko, Launch Weather Officer, 30th Weather Squadron
Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

Media desiring to cover the prelaunch news conference should meet at the south gate of Vandenberg Air Force Base on California State Road 246 at 10:30 a.m. PST on Thursday, Jan. 9. They will be escorted to the NASA Vandenberg Resident Office in Building 840. A post-launch news conference will not be held. However, media will have the opportunity to interview vehicle and spacecraft officials after launch at the NASA Mission Director’s Center in Building 840, if desired.


Media desiring to establish sound-activated remote cameras at the launch pad will depart from the south gate of Vandenberg Air Force Base at 12 noon PST on Thursday, Jan. 9, for SLC-2. Media should contact Lt. Kelly Gabel in the 30th Space Wing Public Affairs Office at 805/606-3595 no later than Wednesday, Jan. 8 to make the necessary arrangements.


There will be an opportunity to photograph the Boeing Delta II on the launch pad Friday morning, Jan. 10, after the gantry has been rolled back from around the vehicle. Media wishing to participate should meet at the Vandenberg Air Force Base main gate located on California State Road 1 at 7 a.m. PST to be escorted to the launch pad. The event will conclude at 8:30 a.m.


On launch day, Friday, Jan. 10, media covering the liftoff should meet at the Vandenberg Air Force Base main gate located on California State Road 1 at 3:30 p.m. PST to be escorted to the press site located on north Vandenberg Air Force Base. After launch, media will be escorted back to the main gate or to the NASA Mission Director’s Center in Building 840 for interviews, if desired.


NASA TV will carry the prelaunch news conference starting at 11 a.m. PST on Thursday, Jan. 9. An ICESat/CHIPSat video package will be broadcast following the press conference.

On launch day, Friday, Jan. 10, NASA TV coverage of the countdown will begin at 3 p.m. PST and conclude at L+90 minutes after both spacecraft have separated from the Delta II launch vehicle.

NASA TV is carried on GE-2, transponder 9C located at 85 degrees West longitude. Audio only will be available on the “V” circuit numbers that may be accessed directly by dialing 321/867- 1220, 1240, 1260, or 7135.

NASA TV coverage of the ICESat/CHIPSat launch will be webcast on the NASA-KSC Home Page at Choose “KSC Live Video Feeds” followed by “NASA Television Coverage.”


The ICESat/CHIPSat News Center at the NASA Vandenberg Resident Office will be staffed beginning Wednesday, Jan. 8 and may be reached at 805/605-3051. A recorded status report will also be available at that time by dialing 805/734-2693.

SpaceRef staff editor.