Delta II ICESat-2 Launch Highlights

Final Delta 2 rocket launch puts NASA’s ICESAT-2 satellite in orbit to monitor ice

NASA launches laser satellite ICESat-2 to measure ice loss

The launch was conducted from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and was broadcast live on the company's website. Since 2009, NASA's Operation IceBridge continued to take airborne measurements.

The Delta II's second stage AJ10-118K engine reignited for 6 seconds about 47 minutes into the mission before deploying ICESat-2 into orbit.

Engineers building and testing the Advance Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS) for the ICESat-2 mission at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Instead, ULA President and Chief Executive Tory Bruno announced after the ICESat-2 launch that this final Delta 2 will be given to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex to be put on display in its "Rocket Garden" of launch vehicles.

One more Delta 2 exists, but will not be launched.

"It's been a very, very prominent part of space history", said Scott Messer, program manager for NASA programs at ULA, during a pre-launch press conference Wednesday (Sep. 13).

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"The latest forecast from the U.S. Air Force 30th Space Wing predicts a 100 percent chance of favorable weather on launch day, with patchy fog and visibility of two-three miles", NASA wrote in a blog post on September 14.

This was the 155th Delta II rocket to launch from California and Florida with 45 of those flying from Vandenberg for an assortment of NASA, international, commercial and government missions. Live coverage of the event begins as early as 8:10 a.m. EDT (12:10 GMT).

NASA launched a satellite Saturday over the Pacific Ocean to measure changes in Earth's ice sheets, glaciers, sea ice and vegetation.

NASA has launched a laser satellite to track the loss of ice sheets and glaciers across the world as the climate warms. ICESat-2 will orbit from pole to pole, taking measurements all along the way but offering the densest height maps near the poles.

"ICESat-2 is created to answer a simple glaciology question very, very well: It will tell us where, and how fast, the ice sheets are thickening and thinning", Benjamin Smith, a glaciologist at the University of Washington's Applied Physics Laboratory who's a member of the mission's science definition team, said in a news release.

But the satellite won't be making the trip to space alone. During its operational life, it also sent up the Kepler telescope, the twin lunar-orbiting GRAIL spacecraft, and a total of 48 Global Positioning System satellites. The data will also also be useful for measuring forest growth across the planet.

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