Up, Up, and Away!

Jason-1 was launced from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 7:07 AM on December 7, 2001. How did Jason get high enough to orbit around the Earth? Jason-1 was taken up on a Delta II rocket. Delta II's can carry as much as 1000 to 2000 kgs (2,200 to 4,400 lbs) to geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO) and 2,863 to 5,818 kgs (6,300 to 12,800 lbs) to low-Earth orbit (LEO).

Delta II Rocket Launching Photographer: Carleton Bailie © The Boeing Company GPS II R3 10/7/99

Are you wondering what geosynchronous means? Well, geo means Earth, syn means together and chronousmeans time, all in Greek. So a geosynchronous satellite moves at the same time as the Earth turns, always staying above 35786 km the same spot on the equator. Only satellites orbiting above the equator can remain fixed over a spot on the surface. These satellites are used for communications and television. Jason-1 weighs 500 kg or about 1,102 lbs and is being taken to a circular orbit 1,336 km above the surface of the Earth, about 830 miles in an orbit inclined 63 degrees relative to the equator. So it is in a low-Earth orbit.