The Aura spacecraft was successfully launched on July 15, 2004 aboard a Delta II 7920-10L, a two stage expendable rocket, from the Vandenberg Western Test Range. What is a Delta 7920-10L? The 7 refers to the Delta series, 9 is the number of solid motors, 2 is the type of second stage and 0 is the type of third stage, in this case none. Fairing is the covering that protects the Aura spacecraft during launch and its trip into orbit. 10L describes the fairing; in Aura's case the fairing is 10 ft, (3 m) in diameter and is 'stretched' approximately 3 ft. longer than the fairing on the 7920-10.+ Get large version of Launch poster
Aura was launched into a sun-synchronous, near polar (98.2 degree inclination) orbit. It orbits 705 km (438 miles) above the Earth with a sixteen-day repeat cycle and 233 revolutions per cycle. The ascending node is in daylight and crosses the equator at approximately 1:45 PM. The Aura spacecraft is flying in formation with other Earth observing satellites called the A-Train.