The End Of An Era – Delta II

At ‘381’ the history of the Delta II rocket comes to an end. With the launch of ICESat-2 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, the storied career of this workhorse launch vehicle in the United Launch Alliance fleet will wrap up on Saturday, September 15th, 2018 at 8:46 am EDT (scheduled).  The ICESat (Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite) will measure the elevation of the Earth’s surface with 10,000 laser pulses bouncing off our planet every second. One instrument only will be used, the Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS), which measures the travel times of laser pulses to calculate the distance between the spacecraft and Earth’s surface. This is a NASA sponsored mission and will help to measure glaciers, sea ice formations, and forests.


Delta-II GRAIL Mission Image: ULA

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the development of the ICESat-2 mission, including mission systems engineering and mission operations on behalf of the agency’s Science Mission Directorate. Goddard also built and tested the ATLAS instrument. The ICESat-2 spacecraft was built and tested by Northrop Grumman in Gilbert, Arizona. United Launch Alliance of Centennial, Colorado, is providing the Delta II launch service. NASA’s Launch Services Program, based at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, is responsible for launch service acquisition, integration, analysis, and launch management.


Image: NASA

SLC 17B (1)

Launch Complex 17 at CCAFS – GRAIL 

The Delta II is poised at SLC-2W and as of this writing all systems are go, the team is not working any issues. Final close out of the spacecraft is in process.  Watch the launch on NASA-TV  this is a fascinating mission.

icesat2 (2)

The patch below signifies the “End Of An Era” #EndOfAnEra specifically for the Delta-II launch vehicle. 


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