Dual Launch on a Delta-II, and an Old Test Satellite

Ten years ago today — December 7, 2001 — a Delta-II launch vehicle carried two satellites into orbit from Vandenberg AFB.


(Artist’s conception of the Thermosphere-Ionosphere-Mesosphere Energetics and Dynamics [TIMED] satellite. NASA image.)

Jason-1 was a joint mission between the U.S. and France: an oceanographic satellite intended to monitor the level and wave heights of the ocean surface. The Thermosphere-Ionosphere-Mesosphere Energetics and Dynamics, or TIMED, satellite was designed to study “the physical and chemical processes acting within and upon the coupled mesosphere,” i.e., that portion of the atmosphere between 60-180 km altitude. This region of the atmosphere “is difficult to study because it is too high for even the largest research balloons and still dense enough to quickly cause a satellite to decay from orbit.”

In earlier space history, on this date 45 years ago, Applications Technology Satellite 1 (ATS-1) launched from Cape Canaveral atop an Atlas Agena rocket. ATS-1 was a test platform for new spacecraft design concepts, particularly propulsion and attitude control, as well as a remote sensing satellite that collected meterological data and cloud cover images. ATS-1 also tested improved satellite communications.

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