Space and astronomy news and information for the American Southwest. Coverage includes Vandenberg AFB rocket and missile launches.

Taurus/ROCSAT-2 Launch on Schedule

Brian Webb

2004 May 20

This morning's launch of a Taurus rocket from Vandenberg AFB remains on schedule. The vehicle is slated to lift-off from pad 576E at northwest Vandenberg at the start of a launch window that extends from 10:47:02 to 11:10:19 PDT.

After lift-off the Taurus will climb vertically at first and then head southward. Fourteen and a half minutes later Taiwan's ROCSAT-2 satellite will enter a 450-mile (725 km) high circular orbit inclined 99.1° to the equator.

The 1,653-pound (750 kg) spacecraft will observe and monitor the environment and natural resources of Taiwan, its remote islands, and surrounding ocean. The satellite will also collect images of lightning discharges to study the coupling between thunderclouds and the upper atmosphere.

The Air Force's L-1 day weather forecast issued Wednesday morning calls for a 0% probability of violating weather constraints at launch time. The forecaster predicts a small amount of low stratus clouds and 10 to 15 knot surface winds out of the northwest. Upper level winds will be from the west-northwest with a maximum of 65 knots near 40,000 feet.

Weather permitting, the white smoke trail from the Taurus should be visible from San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura counties. For the best view, observe from a location as near to the launch site as possible. As an alternative, try viewing the launch from coastal mountains or hills parallel to the Taurus' flight path.

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Copyright © 2004, Brian Webb. All rights reserved.