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24-Jun-08 | Delta flight 334 – OSTM/Jason-2

For the second time in less than nine days, a Delta II has launched a new science probe for NASA.

This time around it was OSTM/Jason-2; the forgettable, agglomerated name comes from Ocean Surface Topography Mission and the fact that this is a follow-on to the Jason-1 satellite (launched in December 2001 on Delta 289). Jason-2 will continue measurement of global ocean surface topography for at least another three years, and is a joint project of NASA, NOAA, CNES, and EUMETSAT.

The dead-of-night launch took place early Friday morning, 20 June, at Vandenberg Air Force Base’s SLC-2W and saw a typically uneventful countdown. The mobile service tower was kept in place until first stage fueling was complete, since the wind was gusty early in the evening. This subsided well before the launch window opened and the rocket left the pad at an official range time of 07:46:25.192 UTC.

Just over 55 minutes later, the tracking station at Hartebeesthoek, South Africa, provided an odd combination of ratty data (according to Telemetry Manager Marc Lavigne, welcome back to the mic)—and a perfectly clear engineering camera view as the spacecraft separated from the Delta II second stage and unfurled its solar panels.

This flight marked the 82nd success in a row for the venerable Delta II.


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