Spaceflight Now: Delta launch report

IMAGE launch timeline
Posted: March 25, 2000

T-00:00.0 Liftoff
The Delta 2 rocket's main engine and twin vernier steering thrusters are started moments before launch. The three strap-on solid rocket motors are ignited at T-0 to begin the mission.
T+01:04.0 SRB Burnout
The three Alliant TechSystems-built solid rocket boosters consume all their are burn out.
T+01:39.0 Jettison Ground-Lit SRBs
The three spent solid rocket boosters are jettisoned to fall into the Pacific Ocean. The motors remain attached to the rocket for 35 seconds after burnout until the rocket passes over a safety drop area.
T+04:24.2 Main Engine Cutoff
After consuming its RP-1 fuel and liquid oxygen, the Rocketdyne RS-27A first stage main engine is shut down. The vernier engines cut off moments later.
T+04:32.2 Stage Separation
The Delta rocket's first stage is separated now, having completed its job. The spent stage will fall into the Pacific Ocean.
T+04:37.7 Second Stage Ignition
With the stage jettisoned, the rocket's second stage takes over. The Aerojet AJ118-K liquid-fueled engine ignites for its single firing to place the upper stage and IMAGE satellite into the right orbit.
T+04:54.0 Jettison Payload Fairing
The 9.5-foot diameter composite payload fairing that protected the IMAGE satellite atop the Delta 2 during the atmospheric ascent is jettisoned is two halves.
T+11:41.7 Second Stage Shutdown
The second stage engine shuts down to complete its first firing of the launch. The rocket and attached IMAGE spacecraft are now in a 40-minute coast period before the third stage ignites. The orbit achieved after second stage cutoff should be 100 by 582-nautical miles inclined at 93.90 degrees.
T+50:21.4 Fire Spin Rockets
Tiny rocket motors are ignited to begin spinning the Delta 2 rocket in preparation for separation of the third stage and attached IMAGE satellite.
T+50:24.4 Second Stage Separation
The liquid-fueled second stage is jettisoned from the rest of the Delta 2 rocket having completed its role in the IMAGE launch.
T+51:01.4 Third Stage Ignition
The Thiokol solid-fueled third stage is ignited to complete IMAGE's journey into its intended orbit around Earth.
T+52:06.1 Third Stage Burnout
Having used up all its solid-propellant, the third stage burns out to completed the powered phase of the launch sequence.
T+55:46.4 Deploy Yo-Yo Weights
Two small yo-yo-like structures are released from the third stage to reduce the spinning motion the Delta rocket and IMAGE spacecraft are experiencing in preparation for satellite separation.
T+55:52.4 IMAGE Separation
NASA's Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration satellite is released into space for its two-year mission to study the Earth's magnetosphere.

Data source: Boeing.
Flight Data File
Vehicle: Delta 2 (7326)
Payload: NASA's IMAGE
Launch date: March 25, 2000
Launch window: 2034:43-2042:43 GMT (3:34-3:42 p.m. EST)
Launch site: SLC-2W, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

Pre-launch briefing
Orbit trace - Maps showing the ground track the rocket will follow during flight.

Delta 2 rocket - Overview of the Delta 2 7326-model rocket used to launch IMAGE.

IMAGE - Description of the IMAGE satellite and its science mission.

Video vault
Animation shows NASA's IMAGE satellite orbiting the Earth for its space weather science mission.
  PLAY (179k, 12sec QuickTime file)

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Explore the Net
Delta 2 - Official Web site of Boeing's Delta 2 expendable launch vehicle program.

IMAGE - NASA site gives overview of Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration mission.

SwRI - The official IMAGE mission home page at Southwest Research Institute.

LMMS - Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space built IMAGE.

Explorers Program - NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center site devoted to Explorer missions.

Vandenberg Air Force Base - West Coast launch site for Delta in California.

History of Delta - A private Web site devoted to past Delta launches with valuable facts and figures.

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