Delta II/SMAP Launch Visibility

From: kd6nrp--- via Seesat-l <>
Date: Tue, 27 Jan 2015 09:20:51 -0800 (GMT-08:00)
                       DELTA LAUNCH VISIBILITY
                            by Brian Webb

A Delta II rocket carrying a NASA scientific satellite and three small
secondary payloads is scheduled for launch from Vandenberg AFB on
Thursday morning, January 29. The Delta is set to lift-off from Space
Launch Complex-2 West at 06:20:42 PST, the start of a three-minute
launch window.

Following lift-off, the Delta will climb vertically for several
seconds, gradually nose over, and head south over the ocean.

The Delta II uses liquid propellant first and second stages. For this
launch, three solid rocket motors are strapped to the first stage for
added thrust.

The first stage main engine and strap-on motors will ignite on the
launch pad. The solid rocket motors will burn out at +1:05* and be
jettisoned at +1:39. The first stage liquid propellant main engine
will continue to burn until main engine cutoff (MECO) at +4:22.

Stage 1/2 separation occurs at +4:28 followed by second stage ignition
at +04:36. Several minutes later, the second stage containing NASA's
SMAP satellite and three small payloads will reach orbit.

Weather permitting, the first few minutes of the launch should be
visible to the unaided from King City, Fresno, western Ventura County,
and coastal Los Angeles County. Under good conditions, the event could
be visible over a much wider area.

For the first minute of flight, the rocket will have a bright orange
flame due to the solid rocket motors. When the solid motors burn out,
the delta will decrease in brightness and resemble a moving white
Liftoff occurs 42 minutes before sunrise as seen from Vandenberg AFB.
According to independent space analyst Rick Baldridge, the rocket will
climb into sunlight during the first stage burn at +2:50 for a 06:20
PST liftoff and +2:40 for a 06:23 PST liftoff. Observers along the
coast from King City to Long Beach should see the sunlit first stage
exhaust plume suspended against the dawn sky during the last minute of
the first stage burn.

Under good conditions, the launch could be visible to the unaided eye
until first stage main engine cutoff. Second stage ignition and the
second stage burn will probably not be visible without optical

*All flight events are expressed in minutes and seconds after liftoff.

Seesat-l mailing list
Received on Tue Jan 27 2015 - 11:21:20 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Tue Jan 27 2015 - 17:21:20 UTC