CONTOUR launch timeline
Updated: June 28, 2002

T-0:00:00.0 Liftoff
The Delta 2 rocket's main engine and twin vernier steering thrusters are started moments before launch. The four strap-on solid rocket motors are ignited at T-0 to begin the mission.
T+0:01:03.1 SRM Burnout
The four Alliant TechSystems-built solid rocket motors consume all their propellant and burn out.
T+0:01:08.0 Jettison SRMs
The four spent ground-started solid rocket boosters are jettisoned in to fall into the Atlantic Ocean.
T+0:04:24.0 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+0:04:32.0 Stage Separation
The Delta rocket's first stage is separated now, having completed its job. The spent stage will fall into the Atlantic Ocean.
T+0:04:37.5 Second Stage Ignition
With the stage jettisoned, the rocket's second stage takes over. The Aerojet AJ10-118K liquid-fueled engine ignites for the first of two firings needed to boost the upper stage and CONTOUR spacecraft into the proper orbit.
T+0:04:42.0 Jettison Fairing
The 9.5-foot diameter payload fairing that protected the CONTOUR satellite atop the Delta 2 during the atmospheric ascent is jettisoned is two halves.
T+0:11:36.1 Second Stage Cutoff 1
The second stage engine shuts down to complete its first firing of the launch. The rocket and attached CONTOUR spacecraft now begin a 47-minute coast period before the second stage reignites. The orbit achieved should be 99.9 by 106.6 nautical miles, inclined 29.7 deg.
T+0:58:30.4 Second Stage Restart
Delta's second stage engine reignites for a very short burst to raise the orbital altitude.
T+0:58:34.4 Second Stage Cutoff 2
The second stage shuts down after reaching an orbit of 99.8 by 166.7 nautical miles inclined 29.7 degrees. Over the next minute, tiny thrusters on the side of the rocket will be fired to spin up the vehicle in preparation for stage separation.
T+0:59:27.4 Stage Separation
The liquid-fueled second stage is jettisoned from the rest of the Delta 2 rocket having completed its role in the launch.
T+1:00:06.0 Third Stage Ignition
The Thiokol Star 48B solid-fueled third stage is then ignited to propel CONTOUR into a highly elliptical Earth orbit. A nutation control system featuring a thruster on an arm mounted on the side of the stage will be used to maintain stability during the burn.
T+1:01:32.2 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+1:03:30.6 Spacecraft Separation
NASA's CONTOUR comet-chasing spacecraft is deployed from the Delta 2 rocket to begin its mission. A kick motor on the probe will be fired August 15 to leave Earth orbit.

Data source: Boeing.

Flight Data File
Vehicle: Delta 2 (7425-9.5)
Payload: CONTOUR
Launch date: July 1, 2002
Launch time: 2:56:14 a.m. EDT (0656:14 GMT)
Launch site: SLC-17A, Cape Canaveral, Florida
Satellite broadcast: GE-2, Transponder 9, C-band

Pre-launch briefing
Orbit trace - Maps showing the ground track for the launch.

Launch windows - See the daily launch opportunities for CONTOUR.

CONTOUR - Technical look at the spacecraft and its systems.

Science goals - The science of CONTOUR aims at a closer look at comet diversity.

Delta 2 rocket - Overview of the Delta 2 7425-model rocket used in this launch.

SLC-17 - The launch complex where Delta rockets fly from Cape Canaveral.

Delta manufacturing - Map of where the parts for Delta 2 rockets are made.

Hardware flow - Illustration of how Delta 2s come together at the Cape.

Delta directory - See our coverage of preview Delta rocket flights.