The mobile service tower was rolled back from the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta II rocket on Friday in preparation of the launch. (Image source: ULA)

Delta II’s final flight a success

The United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta II rocket carrying NASA’s Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) spacecraft lifted off from Space Launch Complex-2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. on Sept. 15 at 6:02 a.m. PDT. This marks the 155th launch and the final mission of the Delta II rocket, which first launched on Feb. 14, 1989.

From its origin as the launch vehicle for the first Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites to NASA’s Earth observing, science and interplanetary satellites – including Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity – to vital commercial communication and imaging satellites, the Delta II rocket has earned its place in space history.

For more information on the launch and Delta II’s history, check out SAE International’s Delta II farewell coverage.

The ICESat-2 satellite will provide scientists with height measurements to create a global portrait of Earth’s third dimension, gathering data that can precisely track changes of terrain including glaciers, sea ice, forests and more.

Stacked at 132 feet and weighing 358,000 pounds, the Delta II launched in a 7420-10C configuration with an Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-27A liquid-oxygen and kerosene-fueled first stage and four side-mounted solid rocket boosters all igniting for 650,000 pounds of thrust at liftoff. (Image source: ULA)

ULA's next launch is the Advanced Extreme High Frequency Satellite-4 (AEHF-4) mission for the U.S. Air Force on an Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The planned launch date is Oct. 17. The more economical and capable ULA Atlas V and Delta IV rockets will continue to serve as launch vehicles for United State and allied science and defense payloads.

ULA is based in Centential, Colo.

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William Kucinski is content editor at SAE International, Aerospace Products Group in Warrendale, Pa. Previously, he worked as a writer at the NASA Safety Center in Cleveland, Ohio and was responsible for writing the agency’s System Failure Case Studies. His interests include 'literally anything that has to do with space,' past and present military aircraft, and propulsion technology. And also sportscars.

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