Monday, August 17, 2009

Final Air Force Delta II Launches from the Cape

A United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket departed Cape Canaveral this morning in a sunrise launch to boost a new Global Positioning System satellite.

Launch of the Delta II-7925 from launch complex 17-A occurred at 6:35 am EDT, as the sun's rays brought a hint of red and blue hues upon the Florida sky.

"What a marvelous launch. It was truly gorgeous as we followed it toward the horizon -- the colors of the sky and the rocket's plume created a heavenly view," SpaceLaunch News' publisher Mary Myers told this reporter when asked of her impression on what we had witnessed.

One minute into the flight as the rocket rose faster than the speed of sound, it trailed past a crescent Moon in the shape of a huge smile.

The GPS system is made up of 24 satellites traveling in an orbit of 10,998 x 104 nautical miles at 8800 mph. The satellites, as this new will be, is inclined 40 degrees to the earth's equator.

The new spacecraft successfully separated from it's third stage motor over the Wake Island area over the western Pacific at 7:43 am EDT.

This morning's launch was the 48th successful Delta 2 launch of the GPS satellite series, and the final one aboard the Delta II. Future, more larger and upgraded GPS satellites will ride larger rockets such as the Delta IV beginning in 2014.

This new NAVSTAR GPS 2R-21 satellite will begin on orbit operations in a few weeks, as it replaces an aging GPS 2A spacecraft which has been in operation since 1996

The next Delta II launch is planned for September 15 from complex 17-B here at Cape Canaveral.

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