Friday, August 14, 2009

Delta II Aims For Era-Ending Launch Early Monday

Blogger Update, 3 p.m.: United Launch Alliance held a traditional Launch Readiness Review today and mission managers gave a "go" for launch early Monday.

A Delta II rocket is being readied at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station for an era-ending launch scheduled to take place early Monday morning.

The 125-foot-tall United Launch Alliance rocket is slated to blast off from Launch Complex 17 at 6:35 a.m. Monday, hauling a Navstar Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite into an orbit 12,000 miles above the planet.

The mission will be the last in a 20-year string of Delta II-GPS launches from Cape Canaveral. ULA still has seven Delta II missions booked and five Delta II rockets that are unassigned. But next-generation GPS satellites will be wider and heavier and will be launched on Atlas V and Delta IV rockets.

The weather outlook for launch is pretty good. Forecasters expected coastal showers to form over the Atlantic Ocean and move toward the launch complex in the early morning hours. But they say there is a 70-percent chance conditions will be acceptable for launch during a window that will extend through 6:49 a.m.

Check out the details in this Official Forecast from the Air Force 45th Space Wing Weather Squadron. The wing provides tracking, range safety and weather forecasting services for all launches from Cape Canaveral and nearby Kennedy Space Center.

The Air Force is warning aviators and mariners to stay clear of restricted airspace around the launch base and a launch hazard zone off the coast of Cape Canaveral between 4:15 a.m. and 7:45 a.m. Monday.

Click HERE for a copy of the Launch Hazard Area map.

People entering the danger zone are subject to civil and criminal penalties that range up to six years in jail and a $250,000 fine.

We'll have live updates here in The Flame Trench during the final countdown early Monday and we'll have the United Launch Alliance launch broadcast live starting at 6:15 a.m.

The Delta II rocket was specifically designed to launch GPS satellites, which originally were slated to fly on NASA space shuttles. The Air Force awarded a contract for a new medium-class launcher in the wake of the 1986 Challenger accident and the first Delta II-GPS mission flew on Feb. 14, 1989.

The launch Monday will be the 49th Delta II-GPS mission launched from Cape Canaveral. Forty-seven of 48 Delta II-GPS missions to date have been successful.

Check out this Delta II-GPS Fact Sheet from United Launch Alliance.

Blogger Note, 5:10 p.m.: Thanks to those who made comments on the total number of GPS launches -- both to date and after Monday. I appreciate the feedback, and you guys helped us avoid making a mistake in the newspaper tomorrow. Thanks again to all! Todd.


Anonymous said...

They have seven booked and five unassigned/unsold. Two more from Cape (STSS and GRAIL) and five from VAFB (Worldview 2, WISE, Cosmo 4, Aquarius, NPP).

Todd Halvorson said...


You are exactly right. Thanks for pointing that out! I'll fix the item....

Anonymous said...

Also, this will be the 49th Delta 2 GPS launch. If successful, 48/49.

Todd Halvorson said...


ULA says 48th. They say 46/47 to date. Check the ULA Fact Sheet I've added to the bottom of the item. Or check

Anonymous said...

They do say this will be the 48th; but they are omitting the IIR-1 explosion and not counting it. So it will be the 48th successfully launched out of 49 total. Their August 5th tweet concurs:

Including the explosion, there were nine II, 19 IIA, 13 IIR and 8 IIR-modernized = 49.

Anonymous said...

The list in that fact sheet shows this is number 49.

Todd Halvorson said...


Once again I stand corrected. The mission Monday will be the 49th, and if all goes well, then 48 or 49 will have been successful.

The fact sheet is misleading....