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Delta II Ready to Launch NOAA-N Prime
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A two-stage Delta II rocket is set to carry the NOAA-N Prime spacecraft into orbit, lifting off from Space Launch Complex 2 West at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

Built by Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, NOAA-N Prime is the latest polar-orbiting satellite developed by NASA for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration -- and the final satellite in the TIROS series.

The spacecraft arrived at Vandenberg on November 4 aboard a C-5 aircraft and was taken to the Astrotech payload processing facility.

The satellite was powered on by Lockheed Martin technicians who conducted electrical, communications system, and solar array illumination tests.

The Delta II arrived at Vandenberg Air Force Base in November, and in early December, stacking of the rocket began at Space Launch Complex 2.

The first stage was installed into the launcher and the three solid rocket boosters were attached around the base.

The second stage was then hoisted atop the first while the payload fairing was installed in the clean room within the mobile service tower.

Technicians at the launch pad conducted mechanical, electrical and avionics system checkouts.

In the early morning hours of January 15, the spacecraft was transported to the launch pad where it was installed atop the rocket's second stage, and spacecraft state-of-health checks were completed.

In late January, the second stage was loaded with hypergolic propellants after the protective fairing was installed around the spacecraft.

The stage is now set -- the rocket and spacecraft are ready -- and soon the familiar 3 -- 2--1 -- liftoff will send NOAA-N Prime spaceward to fulfill its mission.

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