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28-Oct-08 | Delta flight 336 – COSMO-SkyMed 3

In the last scheduled Delta II launch of 2008, a two-stage Med-Lite vehicle has successfully launched the third satellite in the COSMO-SkyMed constellation for the Italian Space Agency and the Italian Ministry of Defense.  The commercial launch was conducted by United Launch Alliance on behalf of Boeing Launch Services, and took place at Vandenberg Air Force Base SLC-2W on the evening of Friday, 24 October (liftoff time was 02:28:25 UTC, 25-Oct-08).

The flight, taking just under an hour from engine start to spacecraft separation, was the 84th consecutive success for Delta II, and its 43rd commercial launch success.  As usual, Justin Ray of provided an excellent play-by-play summary of the launch, available here.

Each COSMO-SkyMed satellite features a high-resolution, X-band Synthetic Aperture Radar to perform global Earth observation; data collected by the constellation of four will be provided to both the Italian military for national security, and the Italian scientific community for environmental studies.  The first three satellites in the constellation have been orbited aboard Delta II vehicles; the launcher for COSMO-SkyMed 4, slated for some time in 2010, is yet to be announced.

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