Installation of the Delta 2 rocket’s nose cone was completed Tuesday in the cleanroom of Vandenberg’s Space Launch Complex 2 gantry as preparations continue for the SMAP mission’s liftoff next Thursday.
The two halves of the 10-foot-diameter composite fairing will protect the SMAP spacecraft during the climb through Earth’s atmosphere in the initial five minutes of flight. It is jettisoned in two halves just after ignition of the second stage at altitude of about 80 miles while traveling over 11,000 miles per hour.
The Delta 2 stands 126.6 feet tall and will weigh 165.5 tons at liftoff. The spacecraft weighs 2,081 pounds.
The Integrated Systems Test for the United Launch Alliance Delta 2 rocket and the SMAP spacecraft was run last week to confirm the combined booster and payload are ready for their departure from Earth.
The thorough electrical test simulated the countdown and the rocket’s trek from liftoff through spacecraft deployment nearly an hour into flight. Officials reported all went well.
The launch’s three cubesat educational secondary payloads were put in place on Friday.
The Flight Readiness Review is scheduled for tomorrow to give approval for filling of the second stage with storable hypergolic propellants.
The Launch Readiness Review will be held next Tuesday to grant authority to enter into the countdown operations.