The Mighty Delta II

The Delta II has launched 155 times with only two launch failures. It has been one of Government’s main workhorse launch platforms for 29 years. One of it’s big projects were the GPS fleet.

I talk about it today because this rocket is about to launch on it’s final flight.

The ICESat 2 is scheduled to launch on the last ever Delta II rocket at 8:46 Eastern Time on Sept 15th from Vandenberg into a polar orbit to study sea ice. The satellite is important for measuring climate change, of course, so I don’t mean to under value it. But if you want to watch a space-culture icon fly into history, you should find time to stream the launch and watch it live.

Change is good. Paying $51M per launch to loft a max of 13,400 lbs to Low Earth Orbit is a thing of the past. The newest version of the Falcon 9 lifts 50,300 lbs to LEO for $50M, and while the rest of the industry can’t match that, the average is a lot closer to it than Delta. The Delta rocket is the poster child of over-priced rides to space. But that should keep us from celebrating this magnificent piece of engineering that has carried so much of the workload of our country’s space activities.

I’ll be watching. Will you?

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~ by Bill Housley on August 31, 2018.

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