Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Delta II Launch to Try Again Tonight

A Delta rocket in California suffered a last minute scrub on Monday evening and technicians hope to have the vehicle ready for another try tonight.

As the countdown neared two minutes, a cutoff was ordered when engineers saw "an insufficient flow of gaseous nitrogen (GN2) in the Delta II engine compartment," United Launch Alliance stated moments after the scrub.

The GN2 flow is used to keep areas near the super cold fuel lines warm at launch.

Do to this flight's one-second launch window, the scrub occurred immediately and the launch team went into a 24-hour turn around.

The ULA Delta II 7420-10 with the COSMO-Skymed 4 satellite is set for a third launch attempt tonight at 10:20 pm EDT (7:20 pm Pacific) from complex 2 at Vandenberg, AFB in California.

This evening's launch will mark the 350th Delta flight; and just the third Delta II launch of the year.

The 126-foot tall white rocket will lift-off with a Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne RS-27A core engine and four strap on solid boosters to provide the initial thrust for it's climb to orbit. The combined thrust at launch is just over 700,000 pounds.

The launch path will carry the vehicle almost due south out over the Pacific Ocean to align it for an intended Polar orbit.

Spacecraft separation over Africa's east coast should occur at 11:18 pm EDT.

"COSMO-SkyMed is a constellation composed of four satellites equipped with Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) operating at X-band," the satellite's Italian operator states. The COSMO-Skymed 4 will operate for Mediterranean basin observation.

Tonight's launch will place the fourth environmental monitoring and surveillance spacecraft in a specialized orbit for use by both military and civilian use.

The new earth imaging satellite's six year mission "is financed by the Ministry for Education, Universities and Scientific Research, the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and the Ministry of Defense", according to Telespazio which is the control center for the satellite constellation.

Meanwhile, on the south side of Vandenberg, a brush fire has been burning since Thursday on the dry fields of the military base. Over 500 acres have been burned since a suspect power line caused the fire days ago in the Bear Creek region.

Although this fire will not effect the Delta's flight, Vandenberg officials told me that "the area involved is known to contain unexploded ordnance".

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