NASA’s SMAP spacecraft is flying solo following a successful separation from the Delta II rocket. This is a 411-by-425-mile injection orbit. During the next few weeks, the spacecraft will make adjustments until it reaches its operational orbit of 426 miles.
Once operational, the observatory will sweep above Earth in a near-polar orbit at an altitude of 426 miles. Its 19.7-foot-wide, rotating antenna will allow the spacecraft to observe a 620-mile-wide swath. This means SMAP will be able to map the planet’s equatorial regions every three days, and the higher latitudes every two days.
The next milestone is the start of solar array deployment.