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04-Oct-06 | Delta launch paves the way for a Nobel Prize.

The 2006 Nobel Prize for Physics has been awarded to John C. Mather (NASA-Goddard) and George Smoot (Lawrence Berkeley) “for their discovery of the blackbody form and anisotropy of the cosmic microwave background radiation” — put simply, work that adds substantially to the body of knowledge supporting the Big Bang theory. Mather and Smoot utilised measurements performed by NASA’s Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) satellite, which was launched on 18 November 1989 aboard Delta 189.

The COBE mission has proven hugely successful, and this Nobel Prize, the first for a NASA civil servant, is only the latest if most prominent laurel for the wealth of data it provided.

Of interest to Delta fans is the fact that Delta 189 was unique as the only instance of a 5000-series vehicle: caught in a transitional period at the dawn of the Delta II era, it combined one of the last Extended Long Tank Thor first stages with an RS-27 main engine and nine then-new Castor IVA strap-on booster motors.

(Nobel Foundation Press Release, NASA Press Release, 3-Oct-06)

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