Artist’s rendering of WGS-11+

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Team Vandenberg supported the successful launch of a NASA satellite on a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket from Space Launch Complex-2 here Saturday, Jan. 31, at 6:22 a.m. PDT.

Col. Shane Clark, 30th Space Wing vice commander, was the Launch Decision Authority.

"Congratulations to the 30th Space Wing, NASA, United Launch Alliance and all our other mission partners for ensuring a safe and successful mission," said Col. Clark. "This is the first of 10 launch missions we have scheduled for 2015. Each and every success is testament to the dedicated men and women supporting activities on the Western Range. I'm very proud of our team and mission partners."

The Delta II rocket carried NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive; the first Earth observing satellite.

SMAP is designed to collect global observations of surface soil moisture and its freeze/thaw state. High resolution space-based measurements of soil moisture and whether the soil is frozen or thawed will give scientists a new capability to observe and predict natural hazards of extreme weather, climate change, floods and droughts, and will help reduce uncertainties in the understanding of Earth's water and carbon cycles.

The mission will provide the most accurate and highest-resolution maps of soil moisture ever obtained, mapping the globe every two to three days from space for at least three years. The spacecraft's final circular polar orbit will be 426 miles (685 kilometers) at an inclination of 98.1 degrees.

The spacecraft will orbit the Earth once every 98.5 minutes and repeats the same ground track every eight days.

For questions about the booster please contact Jessica Rye of the United Launch Alliance at 321-693- 6250 or

For more information about theSMAP mission, visit: or call George Diller from NASA at 321-867-2468.