NOAA-N Prime Launch

    Spacecraft: NOAA-N Prime
    Launch Vehicle: United Launch Alliance Delta II 7320-10C
    Launch Location: Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.
    Launch Pad: Space Launch Complex-2 West
    Launch Date: Feb. 6, 2009
    Launch Time: 5:22 a.m. EST

    Delta II Successfully Launches NOAA-N Prime Spacecraft

    Launch of the Delta II rocket and NOAA-N Prime spacecraft
    Image above: The Delta II rocket carrying the NOAA-N Prime spacecraft thunders into the pre-dawn sky. Image credit: Carleton Bailie/United Launch Alliance
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    The NOAA-N Prime spacecraft began its mission to help monitor Earth's weather from its polar orbit by riding to space atop a Delta II rocket. The successful liftoff from Vandenberg Air Force Base's Space Launch Complex-2 West came at 5:22 a.m. EST on Feb. 6, 2009. An earlier attempt on Feb. 4 was scrubbed when a launch pad gaseous nitrogen pressurization system failed.

    The Delta II is designed to boost medium-sized satellites and robotic explorers into space. For this launch, NASA used a two-stage rocket equipped with three strap-on solid rocket boosters.

    The rocket's second-stage engine fired twice as it propelled the spacecraft toward its intended orbit. The first burn over the Pacific Ocean lasted for six minutes and 39 seconds, during which time the two halves of the payload fairing were jettisoned, exposing the spacecraft. After engine cutoff, the spacecraft entered a cruise phase that lasted 48 minutes. The second firing just off the east coast of Africa lasted for approximately 13 seconds, followed by spacecraft separation six minutes later.

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