The first thing I ran into was the name of the satellite that was launched today. I had been calling it Landsat 8. Well, I found out that it was being called LCDM. It was being called LCDM until it is operating in orbit. Then it will be called Landsat 8.
I am calling it Landsat 8.
The last post I did about the TDRS – K launch, I said I’d call the thing they put the satellite into on top of the rocket, the payload fairing. I did this in the interest of trying my best to be accurate.
Yesterday morning I was reading the NASA launch blog about the Landsat 8 launch.
Kennedy Space Center used the word s payload fairing and nose cone. Okay, I thought, that’s enough.
I am going back to the word that makes the most sense to me to describe the thingy that encapsulates the satellite. I am calling it a capsule and that’s permanent.
One other word I will continue to use is frame for that thing they use to put the rocket stages and payload together at the launch pad area. They use the word tower, but frame makes more sense to me. I also ran across the name gantry for the frame.
I’m done with this rant now.
All of the pictures are from NASA and United Launch Alliance. United Launch Alliance is the company formed by Boeing that makes satellites for NASA and Lockheed Martin that makes Atlas V rocket.
The Atlas V 401 rocket was used for this launch. It is the same kind as that launched TDRS – K on January 30, 2013.
The launch took place at 10:02 a.m., PST at Vandenberg Air Force Base Space Launch Complex. The Landsat 8 was launched into a circular polar orbit and had to be launched from the state of California and not from the state of Florida. This is about orbital science and I am in over my head at this point.
The capsule is designed to protect the satellite as it speeds through Earth’s atmosphere. It has to open at exactly the right time during the launch phase and fall away from the satellite. The satellite is still attached to the second stage rocket when the capsule opens and falls away. There have been times when the capsule has failed to open. When that happens, the capsule with the satellite inside, falls back to Earth. That’s the end of the mission.
Here are two pictures of the Landsat 8 in the open capsule. This is to show you how the satellite goes inside of the capsule. The logo for each mission is hand painted on the capsules.
The launch frame gets rolled back. These are two pictures of the frame sitting away from Atlas V 401. To the right of atlas V is the Atlas V fueling station. I don’t know the name for it yet. The fueling station is hooked up to the rocket to fuel it on the launch pad. It is moved to the launchpad with Atlas V.
This is a picture of the Van Allen Probes on top of an Atlas V rocket being rolled out the launchpad. This was at Cape Canaveral in Florida. I didn’t find a picture of the roll out of the Landsat 8.
Once the Atlas V 401 is settled on the launchpad, the fuel is put into the first stage. The fuel is extremely cold. Before they put it into the Centaur which is the second stage, they cool it down.
This is the Centaur second stage being fueled. The time clock is running. It shows how long it is before launch.
This shows the Atlas V rocket with Landsat 8 still hooked up. It is unhooked before launch. That may seem obvious, but it isn’t if you aren’t used to how they launch things. They top off the tanks on both the first and seconds stages just before launch.
These are two pictures of liftoff from the launchpad.
After the first stage separates, the Centaur second stage takes over.
The capsule opened and fell away, right on schedule.
Centaur gets up the speed of 14,200 miles per hour. This is called the first burn.
The Centaur single engine then shuts down and coasts for 55 minutes. Next is what is called the second burn. This is to put Landsat 8 into the proper orbit.
The orbit is 438 miles above Earth.
Centaur does a short second burn to push Landsat 8 into orbit. Centaur then separates from Landsat 8. This went perfectly.
Landsat 8 is under her own power now and will continue to go into the right orbit. The solar array is what charges the Landsat 8 engine after she is orbit.
The last picture is an artist drawing of Landsat 8 high above the Earth.