September 20, 2018

Photos: Final Delta 2 rocket assembled for launch in California


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The step-by-step stacking of United Launch Alliance’s final Delta 2 rocket was completed in June at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California for liftoff Sept. 15 with an Earth science satellite for NASA.

Workers at Vandenberg lifted the Delta 2’s first stage on its launch mount June 8, then added an interstage connector June 12. Ground crews mated four solid-fueled strap-on boosters in mid-June, and hoisted the Delta 2’s second stage into position June 21.

These photos show the pieces of the Delta 2 rocket arriving at Space Launch Complex 2-West at Vandenberg ahead of liftoff Sept. 15 with NASA’s ICESat 2 satellite, designed to measure changes in ice sheets, and the height of vegetation, land and ocean surfaces, and clouds from an orbit around 300 miles (500 kilometers) above Earth.

The launch window Sept. 15 opens at 5:46 a.m. EDT (8:46 a.m. EDT; 1246 GMT).

The ICESat 2 mission will be the 155th and final launch of a Delta 2 rocket since February 1989. Of the 154 Delta 2 flights completed to date, 152 have been successful.

Read our full story for details on the Delta 2 launch campaign. The photos posted below show the Delta 2’s launch preparations at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

The Delta 2 rocket is removed from its shipping container after arriving at Vandenberg Air Force Base. Credit: USAF 30th Space Wing/Vanessa Valentine
Credit: NASA/Randy Beaudoin
Credit: NASA/Randy Beaudoin
Credit: NASA/Randy Beaudoin
Technicians clean and take samples from one-half of the Delta 2’s payload fairing. Credit: NASA/Randy Beaudoin
The Delta 2’s first stage arrives at Space Launch Complex 2-West. Credit: USAF 30th Space Wing/Pedro Carrillo
The Delta 2’s first stage is raised off its transport trailer. Credit: USAF 30th Space Wing/Pedro Carrillo
The Delta 2 rocket’s first stage RS-27A main engine. Credit: USAF 30th Space Wing/Pedro Carrillo
Credit: USAF 30th Space Wing/Pedro Carrillo
The Delta 2’s first stage is raised into the mobile service tower. Credit: USAF 30th Space Wing/Pedro Carrillo
The Delta 2’s interstage is lifted at Space Launch Complex 2-West. Credit: USAF 30th Space Wing/Mark Mackley
Credit: USAF 30th Space Wing/Mark Mackley
The Delta 2’s interstage is lowered onto the rocket’s first stage. Credit: USAF 30th Space Wing/Mark Mackley
One of the Delta 2’s four solid rocket boosters arrives at the launch pad. Credit: USAF 30th Space Wing/Mark Mackley
Credit: USAF 30th Space Wing/Mark Mackley
Technicians position one of the Delta 2’s four solid rocket boosters onto the first stage. Credit: USAF 30th Space Wing/Mark Mackley
Credit: USAF 30th Space Wing/Mark Mackley
Credit: USAF 30th Space Wing/Mark Mackley
A member of the Delta 2 team assists in the placement of a solid rocket booster on the first stage of the Delta 2 rocket at Vandenberg Air Force Base on June 15. Credit: USAF 30th Space Wing/Mark Mackley
Workers prepare the Delta 2’s second stage for its attachment to the rocket. Credit: NASA/Randy Beaudoin
The Delta 2’s second stage is raised into the mobile service tower. Credit: NASA/Randy Beaudoin
Ground crews lift the second stage of a Delta 2 rocket into the mobile gantry at Space Launch Complex 2-West at Vandenberg Air Force Base. The second stage was stacked atop the Delta 2 rocket June 21. Credit: NASA/Randy Beaudoin
Credit: NASA/Randy Beaudoin

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.


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