GPM Arrives in Japan

Narration: Ellen Gray


Three trucks, one plane, one boat, two countries, one mission. The Global Precipitation Measurement mission's Core Observatory racked up 7300 flight miles before it even left the planet. The Core Observatory in its shipping container took off for Japan on an Air Force Super Galaxy C-5 cargo plane on November 21, 2013. A two-hour refueling stopover in Anchorage, Alaska, turned into two days when a snowstorm swept in. But sunny skies greeted the GPM Core Observatory when it landed at Kitakyushu Airport, Japan, on November 24th. Moving the 57,000 pound combined weight of the shipping container and the satellite took all hands on deck from plane to truck to barge. Rough seas kept the boat at anchor for 24 hours in Saiki before it hit the open water. Arrival by sea is the only way to get heavy space equipment to Tanegashima Island. The tiny island has narrow, windy roads, so it wasn't until midnight when the streets were empty that the Core Observatory traveled the last nine miles to space center. Next, the GPM team unpacked the spacecraft in JAXA's Satellite Preparation Building for post-travel inspections and a Comprehensive Performance Test. These two tasks ensured that the Core Observatory was ready for launch. After a long, slow and careful journey to Tanegashima, GPM arrived safely and began its countdown to launch.