Press Release

NASA Sucessfully Launches the ICESAT/CHIPS Satellites

By SpaceRef Editor
January 12, 2003
Filed under , ,
NASA Sucessfully Launches the ICESAT/CHIPS Satellites

NASA’s Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation satellite (ICESat) and Cosmic Hot
Interstellar Spectrometer (CHIPS) satellite lifted off from Vandenberg Air
Force Base, Calif., at 4:45 p.m. PST aboard Boeing’s Delta II rocket.
Separation of the ICESat spacecraft occurred 64 minutes after launch at 5:49
p.m. PST. Initial contact with ICESat was made 75 minutes after launch at 6
p.m. PST as the spacecraft passed over the Svalbard Ground Station in

The CHIPS spacecraft separated from the launch vehicle 83 minutes after
launch at 6:08 p.m. PST. Initial contact with CHIPS was made 98 minutes
after launch at 6:23 p.m. PST as the spacecraft passed over the University
of California, Berkeley.

“The Delta vehicle gave us a great ride! The ICESat spacecraft was right
where we expected and is performing great. The whole team is thrilled to be
having such a wonderful start to our mission” said Jim Watzin, the ICESat
Project Manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
Over the next few days the ICESat spacecraft will gradually be despun and
placed into a safe stable attitude. Within two weeks the onboard propulsion
system will gradually tune the orbit . Once in its final orbital position,
ICESat will be approximately 373 miles (600 kilometers) above the Earth.

ICESat is the latest in a series of Earth Observing System spacecraft,
following the Terra satellite launched in December 1999, and the Aqua
satellite launched earlier in May of this year. The primary role of ICESat
is to quantify ice sheet growth or retreat and to thereby answer questions
concerning many related aspects of the Earth’s climate system, including
global climate change and changes in sea level.

Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corporation (Ball) in Boulder, Colorado
built the ICESat spacecraft. The Earth Science Data and Information System
at NASA Goddard will provide space and ground network support and the
University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics will
team with Ball to provide mission operations and flight dynamics support.
The GLAS and ICESat data will be initially processed at the ICESat
Investigator-led Processing System with support from the University of
Texas, Center for Space Research. The mission data will be distributed and
archived by the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

Goddard manages the Earth Observing System for NASA’s Earth Science
Enterprise in Washington, D.C. More information about the ICESat program is
available at:

More about NASA’s Earth Science Enterprise can be found at:

CHIPS will study the gas and dust in space, which are believed to be the
basic building blocks of stars and planets. The CHIPS satellite, the first
NASA University-Class Explorer (UNEX) mission, weighs 131 pounds (60
kilograms) and is the size of a large suitcase. It will orbit above the
Earth at about 350 miles (590 kilometers) altitude and is expected to
operate for one year.

CHIPS is sponsored by the Office of Space Science, NASA Headquarters,
Washington, D.C. The project is managed at the Wallops Flight Facility,
Wallops Island, Va., and Goddard through the NASA Explorers Program. The
CHIPS instrument was built at the Space Science Laboratory of the University
of California, Berkeley, and SpaceDev, Inc. of Poway, Calif., built the
spacecraft bus. For detailed information about CHIPS and its mission, go to:

SpaceRef staff editor.