The Delta II rocket lifted off successfully from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 6:02 a.m. on Saturday for the final time.
The 40-minute launch window opened at 5:46 a.m. Liftoff was delayed until 6:02 a.m. so that the United Launch Alliance team would have more time to fix a potential temperature issue.
3-2-1… and we have liftoff of @NASA_ICE’s #ICESat2 atop @ULAlaunch’s #DeltaII rocket ??. Tune in as we broadcast live from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California: https://t.co/MIVnfneKo2 pic.twitter.com/xLRiCVcfrK
— NASA (@NASA) September 15, 2018
NASA’s Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) will use laser pulses to measure the elevation of Earth’s surface. It will help scientists calculate the height of the planet’s terrain and track changes in glaciers, sea ice, lakes, and forests.
United Launch Alliance (ULA) is retiring the Delta II as it focuses more on its Delta IV and Atlas V rockets.
How are we studying Earth’s frozen regions? With 2 new missions & technologies! @NASA_ICE scientists will use data from #GRACEFO, which launched in May, and #ICESat2, which is launching Sept. 15 to better understand how frozen water affects our planet: https://t.co/ga8vuS8UxP pic.twitter.com/sloW9cQM2i
— NASA (@NASA) September 14, 2018
According to ULA, McDonnell Douglas created the rocket in the late 1980s to launch GPS satellites for the Air Force. But now, GPS satellites are larger and require larger launch vehicles than the Delta II.
This was the 155th flight of a Delta II rocket. The first launch was in 1989.