[Via Satellite 02-02-2015] The Boeing–Lockheed Martin joint venture United Launch Alliance (ULA) successfully launched NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite on Jan. 31 aboard a Delta 2 rocket. The launch also delivered four CubeSats for the agency’s Educational Launch of Nanosatellite (ELANA) initiative.
ULA used a Delta 2 7320 configuration vehicle, which employed a first stage booster comprised of Aerojet Rocketdyne’s RS-27A main engine and three strap-on solid boosters from Alliant Techsystems (ATK). Aerojet RocketDyne’s AJ10-118K engine powered the second stage.
NASA’s SMAP satellite will provide global measurements of soil moisture, including freeze and thaw state data from a near-polar orbit at an altitude of 426 miles. The research satellite will be able to map Earth’s equatorial regions every three days, and the higher latitudes every two days using a 19.7-foot-wide, rotating antenna capable of observing a 620-mile-wide swath.