On Space Launch Complex 576-E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, Orbital Sciences workers monitor NASA's Glory upper stack as a crane lifts it from a stationary rail for attachment to the Taurus XL rocket's Stage 0. The upper stack consists of Stages 1, 2 and 3 of the Taurus as well as the encapsulated Glory spacecraft. Workers put the non-flight environmental shield over the fairing prior to assembly. A portion of the umbilical tower is attached to the upper stack which falls away from the spacecraft during liftoff.
The Orbital Sciences Taurus XL rocket will launch Glory into low Earth orbit. Once Glory reaches orbit, it will collect data on the properties of aerosols and black carbon. It also will help scientists understand how the sun's irradiance affects Earth's climate. Launch is scheduled for 5:09 a.m. EST Feb. 23. For information, visit www.nasa.gov/glory. Photo credit: NASA/Randy Beaudoin, VAFB