Early Morning Satellite Launch Planned from Vandenberg AFB

Adjust Comment Print

The grand event symbolizes both a new beginning and the end of an era and will see NASA's cutting-edge ICESat-2 satellite take off into space on the very last flight of ULA's famous Delta II rocket.

In a bid to understand Earth's ice sheets, glaciers, sea ice, snow cover and permafrost, NASA on Saturday successfully launched its Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite-2, or ICESat-2.

"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". The early moments of the flight appeared same old because the vehicle accelerated in the direction of orbit.The Delta 2 debuted in February 1989 when it launched the principle operational International Positioning Scheme satellite from Cape Canaveral.

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.

ICESat-2 carries a single instrument, the Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS). As its successor, ICESat-2 will fill in more detail about the bigger picture by examining how ice cover changes over the course of one year.

The Delta 2's RS-27A main engine burst to life at 6:02 a.m.

Timing the departure and arrival times of returning photons to within a billionth of a second, the satellite will be able to determine the thickness of ice below the spacecraft, giving scientists insights into how ice sheets change over time and how the loss of ice due to global warming and other factors might affect sea levels around the world.

According to the Verge, it will pass over the same position on the planet every 91 days, which will allow program scientists to observe how the polar ice sheets are changing over time.

The launch was conducted from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and was broadcast live on the company's website.

Multiple orbits over the poles will give it a vantage point of 300 miles (482km) above the Earth to fire special lasers downward at 10,000 times each second to make its measurements.

It will take a measurement every 2.3ft (70cm) along the satellite's path.

ICESat-2 suffered delays because of problems with ATLAS, notably a failure of one of its lasers. Two of them - twin Electron Losses and Fields Investigation CubeSats, or ELFIN, were designed by a team of UCLA students, some of whom are now alumni or graduate students. "Space weather research is also crucial for space tourism and space exploration".