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Saalex Supports Multi-Agency Launch of Oceanographic Satellite

ELVIS 3 Team Assists with Mission to Measure Sea Level Rise Related to Climate Change

Camarillo, CA and Rockledge, FL (November 25, 2020) – Saalex has followed up the historic Crew Dragon mission earlier this month with support for another successful commercial and scientific launch by NASA and SpaceX. On Saturday, November 21, a Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California carrying the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich oceanography satellite into orbit. Members of Saalex’s Expendable Launch Vehicle Integrated Support 3 (ELVIS 3) team supported the launch both on site and from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

This latest mission represents a collaboration between NASA, SpaceX, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the European Space Agency, along with other partners.

The Falcon 9 lifted off from Vandenberg’s Space Launch Complex 4 East (SLC-4E) at 09:17 Pacific Standard Time — or 17:17 UTC. Saalex has teamed with a.i. solutions to support NASA’s Launch Services Program (LSP) and Commercial Crew Program (CCP), which provide integrated launch preparation and execution services for the agency’s next generation of scientific and space exploration vehicles.

The Sentinel 6A Michael Freilich will be joined in orbit by the Sentinel 6B in 2025. Together, the two satellites will measure sea level fluctuations as they relate to climate change. The satellite was named for the former director of NASA’s Earth Science Division, Michael Freilich, who was instrumental in advancing space-based ocean measurements.

The launch was originally scheduled for November 10 but was delayed due to abnormal behavior of the Falcon 9 rocket’s Merlin-1D engines. The first stage of the Falcon 9 is powered by nine such engines. After extensive testing, it was decided that two of the engines would be replaced and the launch was rescheduled for November 21.

The Saalex ELVIS 3 team taking part in the mission included two Mission Integration Coordinators, Lorie Keller and Kris Nelson, who handle communications between the mission’s major stakeholders, as well as two Engineering Technical Integrators, Maro Nime and Jim Poppino, who support NASA’s chief engineers and travelled to California from Florida for the launch. This was the fifth launch in what has been a particularly busy year for the ELVIS 3 team.

Along with supporting high-profile missions that included two Crew Dragon launches in May and November, the July Mars Rover Perseverance launch, and the Solar Orbiter (SolO) launch in February, the team has contended with logistical complications brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. With some missions pushed to 2021 because of the pandemic, next year is shaping up to be even more challenging, said ELVIS 3 Launch Site Support Engineer, Robert Fischer.

“This has been a particularly busy year and we are going to be pretty darn busy for the next couple of years,” Fischer said. “Because of COVID, we have had to support the missions with bare minimum in-person personnel but have made up for that by making adjustments and working remotely when possible.”

Saalex Solutions President and CEO Travis Mack commended the ELVIS 3 team for their outstanding work under tough circumstances.

“It’s been a difficult year across all industries, but Saalex continues to rise to the challenge in support of the important work that NASA, NOAA, and SpaceX are doing to explore the possibilities of commercial space flight while helping protect our planet for future generations,” Mack said.