Friday, November 05, 2010

Delta II Lifts-off with Italian Surveillance Satellite

Long range IR Camera captures Delta's booster separation. (VAFB)

After several delays this week, a Delta rocket lifted-off tonight from southern California on a satellite deployment mission for Italy.

The United Launch Alliance Delta II 7420-10 launched from Vandenberg, AFB at 10:20:03 pm EDT, with the Italian COSMO SkyMed 4 surveillance satellite.

Vandenberg is a Pacific coast military air base located three hours northwest of Los Angeles.

"This was a critical launch for completing the COSMO-SkyMed constellation and Team Vandenberg performed brilliantly," Col. Richard Boltz, commander of 30th Space Wing, stated moments after the spacecraft was safely in orbit.

This evening's launch marked the 350th Delta flight, and just the third Delta II launch of the year.

The launch control room was draped in several Italian flags as the white rocket soared out over the Pacific Ocean.

One minute into flight, the Delta II four strap on solid fuel boosters burned out having done their job through the dense atmosphere region. Twenty-five seconds later, the boosters were then separated as the core main engine continued to push the rocket upward.

The 126-foot tall white rocket uses a Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne RS-27A core engine and the four boosters to provide a combined thrust at launch at just over 700,000 pounds.

Four minutes into the ascent, the rocket was passing through fifty miles in altitude, and was located 130 miles south of the air base.

Following several burns to place the Delta's upper stage in a proper orbit and location, the satellite separated at 11:18 pm as the craft passed over Africa's central east coast.

"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 for six or more years.

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