The United States launched its ninth Tiros weather satellite before dawn Friday (22 January) into a polar orbit that will give it four times the coverage of its predecessors.
Rocket on pad - blast off
Rocket taking off from pad
First section released
Sections released - orbit
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Background: The United States launched its ninth Tiros weather satellite before dawn Friday (22 January) into a polar orbit that will give it four times the coverage of its predecessors.
The launch was marred when the second stage of the Delta rocket burned too long, shoving the payload into an egg-shaped rather than circular orbit. But scientists said the satellite would still be able to perform satisfactorily. It is whirling around the earth every 118 minutes in a north-south orbit that ranges from 500 to 1,082 miles high.
The 305-pound satellite has two television cameras that are rotated in a cartwheeling arrangement that will enable it to photograph the earth continuously, providing full coverage of the entire surface each day. Previous models of the Tiros - two of which are still operating -- took photographs only periodically.
Friday's launch marked the first time that a satellite has been placed in polar orbit from Cape Kennedy. Other north-south satellites have been orbited from California. A north-south launching from Kennedy requires intricate maneuvering because the rocket passes over populated areas in its early stages of launch.