The $1 Billion ICESat-2 probe lifted off atop the venerable United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta II’s on its 155th and final launch at 9:02 a.m. EDT Saturday, September 15, 2018.
“The Delta II rocket has been a venerable workhorse for NASA and civilian scientists, the U.S. military, and commercial clients throughout its almost 30 years of service,” said Tory Bruno, ULA president and CEO, in a statement.
“This program comes to a close with the final launch of NASA’s ICESat-2, but its legacy will continue and the Visitor Complex will help us keep the story of the success of this much-revered rocket in the hearts and minds of the public.”
Bruno went on to say it would be displayed “soon” and “upright” and in the “7420-10” configuration – the same as for ICESat-2.
The Delta II 7420-10 configuration rocket includes a 10-foot-diameter payload fairing (PLF) and four strap-on solid rocket boosters and stands 132 feet tall (40 meters tall).
World famous Rocket Garden at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida. Credit: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
"We are honored to have the Delta II join our historic lineup of rockets in our Rocket Garden," said Therrin Protze, chief operating officer of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
“We are excited to welcome the ULA #DeltaII rocket to our Rocket Garden! Welcome Delta II and thank you @ULALaunch and @ToryBruno!” tweeted the visitor center.
“The maiden Delta II took flight on Valentine's Day in 1989, successfully delivering the first operational GPS satellite into space,” noted ULA.
“Since that first launch, Delta II rockets have launched 154 successful missions. Its resume includes several trips to Mars as well as the planet-hunting Kepler, the twin lunar-orbiting GRAIL spacecraft, 48 GPS satellites and numerous commercial imaging and communications satellites.”
Among the NASA science missions launched are the famous twin Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity, Pathfinder, Dawn Asteroid Orbiter, MESSENGER Mercury Orbiter, Mars Phoenix, Mars Odyssey, Mars Global Surveryor, Deep Impact, Spitzer Space Telescope, Kepler, NEAR, STEREO, WMAP and many many more.
Thus its wonderful to learn that the Delta II will live on forever at KSCVC !
Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com – twitter @ken_kremer – email: ken at kenkremer.com
Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area.