Friday, September 25, 2009

Delta II rocket Launches Missle Defense Satellite

A Delta 2 rocket lifted-off into the blue skies of America's Space Coast this morning on a military duo satellite delivery mission following a two day delay due to weather and a pad fuel leak.

A United Launch Alliance Delta 2-7920 lifted-off from launch complex 17-B here at Cape Canaveral at 8:20 am EDT. As the rocket cleared the tower, it's Rocketdyne RS-27A main engine and six rocket boosters began to arc northeastward while speeding past thing clouds and into sunny weather. Launch temperature was 79 degrees F.

The white and blue Delta II flew parallel with the United States east coast as it headed up toward the north Atlantic Ocean carrying two missile defense agency satellites. The orbital inclination for both spacecraft will be at 58.0 degrees - a very high inclination orbit to cover most of the planet's surface.

The two satellites -- Space Vehicle 1 & 2 -- which are joined together to form the Space Tracking and Surveillance System – Demonstrators (STSS Demo). Using both infrared and visible light sensors, the STSS Demo payload will give the military the ability to detect and track ballistic missiles in all phases of flight which could threaten the United States and her partner countries.

At 9:07 am, the first of the two satellites, Space Vehicle 1, separated from the second stage booster at an altitude of 730 n
autical miles over the central Indian Ocean. Seven and one-half minutes later, the SV-2 satellite then separated as it cruised over the southern Indian Ocean at an altitude of 731 miles.

Once the satellite pair flew free of the Delta's second stage, ULA vice president Jim Sponnick stated, “Building on the launch of the STSS ATRR mission in May, I congratulate both the Missile Defense Agency and NASA for the start of a second successful mission that will demonstrate technologies very important to the defense of our nation”.

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