Fairing Attached to HII-A Rocket

The Global Precipitation Measurement Core (GPM) Observatory is scheduled to launch on Feb. 27 (EST) from Tanegashima Space Center, Japan.

The Mitsubishi Heavy Industries team finished installing the GPM mission’s Core Observatory into the fairing. The main installation occurred on Feb. 13, and all final activities and checks concluded on Feb. 16. The fairing is the top part of the rocket that will protect the spacecraft during launch.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries moved the fairing containing the GPM Core Observatory to the vehicle assembly building on Feb. 18 at Tanegashima Space Center. Inside the vehicle assembly building Mitsubishi is assembling the H-IIA rocket that will take the Core Observatory to space. After the fairing containing the GPM Core Observatory arrived, it was attached to a crane and lifted to the top of the rocket to complete the assembly.

The H-IIA rocket is Japan's primary large-scale launch vehicle. It consists of two stages and two solid rocket boosters. The rocket boosters are two smaller, white "attachments" to the main stage to aid in the initial liftoff. The rocket fuel they burn is a solid, not liquid, propellant. The main engine of the first stage, the lower half of the rocket, is fueled by liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen, as is the second stage, upper portion, that takes over once the main stage has burned up all its fuel. The main The H-IIA's launch record is 21 successful launches out of 22.