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History of the Delta Launch Vehicle



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01-Jul-11 | Mission round-up

In lieu of immediate Delta II action—the next launch will occur no earlier than September—here is a round-up of news about current missions that began with successful Delta II launches.

Dawn (Delta 327) will arrive at Vesta on 16 July. It will remain in orbit for several months to study the asteroid before moving on to Ceres. (JPL Press Release, 23 June 2011)

Studies of samples returned to Earth in 2004 by Genesis (Delta 287) suggest that the Sun and inner planets “may have formed differently than previously thought.” (JPL Press Release, 23 June 2011)

MESSENGER (Delta 307) attained orbit around Mercury in March 2011, and so far its science return has been spectacular. Co-Investigator Scott Murchie of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) will be awarded the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal at a ceremony later this month. (MESSENGER Mission News, 22 June 2011)

And finally, one piece of Delta-related news: NASA is considering purchase of one or more of the five remaining Delta II vehicles for use of future missions, according to Space News. The loss of two NASA spacecraft to failures of the Taurus XL vehicle is a factor in the move. No word on how negotiations with United Launch Alliance are proceeding.


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