NOAA’s Jason-3 Spacecraft Ready for Launch

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  December 17, 2015 
NOAA’s Jason-3 Spacecraft Ready for Launch

The launch of Jason-3, an international mission led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to continue U.S.- European satellite measurements of the topography of the ocean surfaces, is scheduled for launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016.  Liftoff aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg’s Space Launch Complex 4 East is targeted for 10:42:18 a.m. PST (1:42:18 p.m. EST) at the opening of a 30-second launch window. If needed, a backup launch opportunity is available on the Western Range on Jan. 18 at 10:31:04 a.m. PST (1:31:04 p.m. EST).

Jason-3 will maintain the ability to monitor and precisely measure global sea surface heights, monitor the intensification of tropical cyclones and support seasonal and coastal forecasts. Data from Jason-3 will support scientific, commercial and practical applications related to ocean circulation and climate change.  Additionally, Jason-3 data will be applied to fisheries management, marine industries and research into human impacts on the world’s oceans.

The mission is planned to last at least three years with a goal of five years.

Jason-3 is a four-agency international partnership consisting of NOAA, NASA, the French Space Agency CNES (Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales), and EUMETSAT (the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites). Thales Alenia of France built the spacecraft.

NOAA in collaboration with the international European partners is responsible for the Jason-3 mission. JPL is responsible for NASA Jason-3 project management. NASA’s Launch Services Program at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida provides launch management. SpaceX of Hawthorne, California, is NASA’s launch service provider of the Falcon 9 rocket.


News media desiring accreditation for the prelaunch and launch activities for Jason-3 should contact:

Tech. Sgt. Tyrona Lawson
30th Space Wing Public Affairs Office
Vandenberg Air Force Base, California 93437

Telephone: 805-606-3595
Fax: 805-606-4571

Information required for U.S. media is full legal name, date of birth and media affiliation.  A legal photo identification will be required upon arrival at Vandenberg. The deadline for U.S. news media to apply for accreditation is Monday, Jan. 11, 2016. The deadline for foreign media to apply for accreditation has passed.        


Friday, Jan 15:  The prelaunch news conference and Jason-3 Mission Science Briefing will be held starting at 1 p.m. PST (4 p.m. EST) in the main hangar of Building 836 at the NASA Vandenberg Resident Office, Vandenberg Air Force Base. The briefing will be carried live on NASA Television and streamed on

Media desiring to cover the event should meet at the south gate of Vandenberg on California State Road 246 at 12:30 p.m. to be escorted by 30th Space Wing Public Affairs to the news conference.

Participants in the prelaunch news conference will be:

Jim Silva, Jason-3 program manager
NOAA, Washington, D.C.

Sandra Smalley, director, Science Mission Directorate Joint Agency Satellite Division
NASA Headquarters, Washington

Tim Dunn, NASA launch manager
Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Hans Koenigsmann, vice president of Mission Assurance, SpaceX
Hawthorne, California

Parag Vaze, Jason-3 project manager
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, California

Lt. Joseph Round, launch weather officer, 30th Operations Support Squadron
Vandenberg Air Force Base, California


Following the prelaunch news conference, or at approximately 1:45 p.m., a Jason-3 Mission Science Briefing will be held. Participants in the briefing will be:

Laury Miller, Jason-3 program scientist and chief
NOAA Laboratory for Satellite Altimetry

Josh Willis, Jason-3 project scientist
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Marc Cohen, associate director and chief of Low Earth Orbit Programmes

Sophie Coutin Faye, chief, Altimetry and Precise Positioning Office

For access to the dial-in question-and-answer capability, news media should call 321-867-2468 within 15 minutes of the planned start of the briefings. Media also can post questions during the briefing via Twitter by using the hashtag #askNASA. 


Saturday, Jan. 16:  Media desiring to establish sound-activated remote cameras at the launch pad should meet at the Vandenberg south gate on California State Road 246 at 1:15 p.m. to be escorted to Space Launch Complex 4 East.

Those wishing to attend remote camera set ups should confirm their participation with Tech. Sgt. Tyrona Lawson in the 30th Space Wing Public Affairs office at 805-606-3595 not later than Monday, Jan. 11, 2016.


Saturday, Jan. 16: There will be an opportunity for news media to photograph the Falcon 9 with Jason-3 at the launch pad. News media should be at the Vandenberg south gate on California State Road 246 at 1:15 p.m. in preparation for going to Space Launch Complex 4 East. Those wishing to attend the launch pad photo opportunity should confirm their participation with Capt. Selena Rodts in the 30th Space Wing Public Affairs office at 805-606-3595 not later than Monday, Jan. 11, 2016.     


Sunday, Jan. 17:  Media covering the Jason-3 launch aboard the Falcon 9 rocket should meet at 9:15 a.m. at the Vandenberg main gate located on California State Road 1 to be escorted to the press viewing site on north Vandenberg. Press credentials and identification from a bona fide news organization will be required for access. A driver's license alone will not be sufficient.

For photographers, the launch azimuth after liftoff will be 142.8 degrees.

After launch, media will be escorted back to the main gate.  A post-launch news conference will not be held.


NASA Television will carry the prelaunch news conference starting at 1 p.m. PST (4 p.m. EST) on Friday, Jan. 15. The prelaunch news conference also will be webcast at:  

On launch day, Jan. 17, NASA TV launch commentary coverage of the countdown will begin at 8 a.m. PST (11 a.m. EST).  Launch is targeted for 10:42:18 a.m. PST (1:42:18 p.m. EST).  The launch window is 30 seconds in duration. Spacecraft separation from the rocket occurs 55 minutes after launch.

For information on receiving NASA TV, go to:


Audio only of the press conference activities and the launch coverage will be carried on the NASA “V” circuits, which may be accessed by dialing 321-867-1220, -1240, -1260. On launch day, "mission audio," the launch conductor’s countdown activities without NASA TV launch commentary, will be carried on 321-867-7135 starting at 8 a.m. PST (11 a.m. EST).

NASA Web Prelaunch and Launch Coverage

For extensive prelaunch, countdown and launch day coverage of the liftoff, including the prelaunch webcast of Jason-3 aboard the Falcon 9 rocket, go to:

Social Media

Join the conversation online and follow the Jason-3 mission on Twitter at:   

Throughout the launch countdown, the NASA Launch Services Program and NASA JPL Twitter and Facebook accounts will be continuously updated at:

Live countdown coverage on NASA’s launch blog begins at 8 a.m. PST (11 a.m. EST).  Coverage features real-time updates of countdown milestones, as well as streaming video clips highlighting launch preparations and liftoff.


The Jason-3 and Falcon 9 News Center at the NASA Vandenberg Resident Office will open Monday, Jan. 11. To speak with a NASA communications specialist, call 805-605-3051 beginning at that time.  A recorded launch status report also will be available by dialing 805-734-2693.

For more information about the Jason-3 mission, visit:


George H. Diller
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

Steve Cole
Headquarters, Washington

John Leslie

Alan Buis
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

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