This post is here because I was looking at the Landsat 8 information and when it would launch. It will launch on February 11, 2013. Landsat 7 is up in space now. Landsat 7 is used to get images of the Earth. When I do a post on Landsat 8, I’ll explain.

For now, here is a satellite picture from Landsat 7. This is an image of Cape Cod and I have used it before this post.

I started wondering, how do they get that thing up high into space. This led to finding more information.
First, I had to look at Earth’s atmosphere. A brief look.
Second, I had to look at the rockets used to launch artificial satellites. Artificial satellites are things like Landsat 8, commonly just called satellites. Natural satellites are objects like the moon.
Atlas V is the rocket I chose to use as an example.
For a bit, I got so confused that it was a wonder I could think at all. My main gripe is the language and technical terms I ran into all throughout my information gathering.  I chose not to use them in this post, unless I really had to do so.

Most of the pictures are from NASA.

This is a diagram of Earth’s atmosphere from NOAA.

CG_Figure_6 NOAAThis is small diagram of the Landsat 7 orbit.

landsatorbitThe orbit period at the bottom says 98.8 minutes.

This is a diagram of satellite orbits.

SatOrbitsThis is a diagram of the Van Allen Probes orbit. They changed the name from RBSP to Van Allen in honor of Mr. Van Allen, who discovered the radiation belts.

541987main_rbelt-multi_800-600 rad belts NASAHere are four pictures of Earth’s atmosphere. They were taken by crews of the International Space Station (ISS). The first view is of the top of the atmosphere.

640px-Top_of_AtmosphereFrom ISS crew 23. It was taken at sunset.

800px-Sunset_from_the_ISS 23 crewThis was taken by ISS crew 28.

800px-Moon_Limb_&_Troposphere ISS Expedition 28 crewThis is the Space Shuttle Endeavour heading back home through Earth’s atmosphere from the ISS.

Endeavour_silhouette_STS-130There isn’t a definite boundary between the Earth’s atmosphere and space. The boundary is at 62 miles high. The effects of the Earth’s atmosphere are noticed at 120 miles high.

This is a diagram of Cape Canaveral. This is where a lot of space vehicles are launched. It is called Kennedy Space Center.

m005 cape canaveral NASAThis is a diagram from Lockheed Martin of the Atlas V rocket. It launched the Van Allen Probes into space. Probes look around and send back information they collect.

1326500419555 lookheedmartinAn artificial satellite has to launch into the correct orbit. Otherwise it can’t do what it was sent to do. This involves a lot of calculation. They need to know where they want the satellite to be in which orbit.

The rocket goes straight up from the launchpad and goes through the layers of Earth’s atmosphere.
After that, the rocket heads east. It heads east because that is the direction the Earth’s orbit.
The speed that the Earth rotates at Cape Canaveral is 894 miles an hour. This helps the satellite go into orbit.
The rocket keeps track of where it is in relation to the Earth. This is called an Inertial Guidance System.
To put it in basic terms. The rocket knows when to turn east at 120 miles high. It fires small rockets and turns the launch vehicle east. The satellite is then released. Rockets fire again and the satellite separates from the launch vehicle.

This is a picture of the Atlas V first stage being put into the launch frame at Kennedy Space Center. These Atlas V pictures are from the Van Allen Probes launch.

800px-Atlas_V_AV-021_first_stage_erectionThe Atlas V first stage is in place.

669732main_2012-07-13-9-1600_800-600 first stage NASAThis is a picture of putting the second stage into the launch frame.

670310main_2012-07-16-1-1600_800-600 truck NASAThe second stage in place.

670377main_2012-07-16-6-1600_800-600 center stage NASA

This is the Van Allen Probes capsule being lifted above the first and second stages.

676635main_2012-08-10-7-1600_800-600 lifting NASA

This is a picture of the Van Allen Probes capsule being put onto the elevator of the launch frame.

676563main_2012-08-10-1-1200_800-600 on elevator NASAThe capsule in place.

676659main_2012-08-10-9-1600_800-600 inside NASAOn the launchpad.

681964main_2012-4700-1600_800-600 launch pad 2 NASAAtlas V being fueled. This is a different launch. I wanted to show the fueling.

124298main_wdress NASA fuelingThey launched Atlas V after dark. This is a picture of Atlas V with the Van Allen Probes, ready to go.



683382main_2012-08-30-2_1600_800-600 Fire up RBSP NASALiftoff.

5214569_origHeading up.


This is a picture of an Atlas V booster separation. I couldn’t find one from the Van Allen Probes Mission. The picture is by, United Launch Alliance.


A drawing of the two probes separating from each other.

541975main_Separation_800-600 separation NASAThe last picture is of the two Van Allen Probes in  their radiation belt orbits.