US-European ocean-monitoring satellite launches

A U.S.-European satellite designed to detect and measure ocean phenomena has launched aboard a SpaceX rocket under mostly cloudy skies from the California coast.

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Liftoff occurred as planned at 10:42 a.m. Sunday from Vandenberg Air Force Base, northwest of Los Angeles.

After sending the Jason-3 satellite into orbit the Falcon 9 rocket will attempt to land its discarded first stage on a floating barge in the Pacific Ocean.

The mission of Jason-3 is to continue an unbroken record of more than two decades of sea level measurements from orbit.

Like its predecessors, Jason-3 is equipped with radar altimeter to bounce microwave energy off the ocean and a GPS system to identify the satellite's precise location.

The cost of the mission, including five years of operation, was put at $180 million.


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