WASHINGTON — A joint U.S.-France geoscience mission is now ready to be delivered to California for its scheduled launch in early December, although there have been minor delays, in part due to transportation issues. has arisen.

Thales Alenia Space, the prime contractor for the surface water and ocean topography (SWOT) rover, announced on Sept. 6 the final delivery of the 2-ton rover from its factory in Cannes, France to the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. Said he was preparing. There, it will be integrated with SpaceX Falcon 9, which will launch by December 5th.

A joint mission of NASA and the French space agency CNES, SWOT will involve the Canadian Space Agency and the British Space Agency to make oceanographic and hydrological observations using synthetic aperture radar, altimeters and other instruments. Scientists plan to use SWOT to conduct global surveys of the Earth’s waters, including measuring changes in lakes, rivers and ocean currents.

A NASA-provided science payload was loaded onto a Thales-built spacecraft and then tested. Getting the spacecraft from France to the United States proved more of a challenge than once anticipated.

At an August 2 advisory board meeting, Kathleen Boggs, associate director of flight programs for NASA’s Earth Science Division, said, “We had a slight problem with the transport.” “It was supposed to come back on a Ukrainian Antonov aircraft provided by CNES.”

However, these aircraft have been largely grounded due to sanctions and other issues related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. These aircraft were frequently used prior to the invasion to transport large satellites that could not fit in other cargo aircraft. With no aircraft available, satellite manufacturers have limited options for airlifting spacecraft to launch sites.

Boggs said at the conference that NASA is “very close” to an agreement with the U.S. Air Force to transport the spacecraft. Thales Alenia said in his Sept. 6 release that SWOT said in early October he would be transported to California on a U.S. Air Force C-5 cargo plane “specially deployed” for SWOT. .

Using the Air Force to transport planes is preferable from a schedule perspective to using ships, she added. That’s why we’re pushing for the Air Force’s solution.”

Arranging alternative transportation contributed to the schedule slip of the SWOT launch. NASA announced on August 25 that his launch, previously scheduled for November, is scheduled for his December 5th. It transports satellites from Cannes, France to Space Force Base Vandenberg, California.”

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