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08-Jun-07 | Delta flight 324 – COSMO-SkyMed 1

On Thursday evening, 7 June 2007, Delta flight 324 successfully placed the first spacecraft of Italy’s COSMO-SkyMed system into its operational orbit. An unspecified technical issue at Vandenberg’s SLC-2W pushed the launch back to the last moment of the 13-minute launch window, so the resulting official time of liftoff was 02:34:00.561 UTC.

Fifty-eight minutes later, the two-stage Delta II 7420 vehicle released COSMO 1 into a nearly circular polar orbit, about 340 nautical miles in altitude. This marked the 73rd consecutive success by Delta II, which is now 126 out of 128 launches in its 18-year career.

COSMO-SkyMed is an Earth-imaging system consisting of four satellites; each spacecraft carries a Synthetic Aperture Radar “for environmental monitoring, resource management and territorial surveillance. ” It is a joint project of the Italian Space Agency and the Italian Ministry of Defence, so its imagery will be used in both civilian and military applications.

COSMO 2, also slated to launch aboard a Delta II from Vandenberg, is expected to fly some time later this year or early 2008.

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