Delta II

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ULA Delta IIDelta II to Launch ICESat-2

Rocket: Delta II
Mission: ICESat-2
Launch Date: Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018
Launch Time: Launch is planned for 5:46 a.m. PDT
Launch Broadcast: Tune in live beginning at 5:10 a.m. PDT
Launch Location: Space Launch Complex-2, Vandenberg Air Force Base, California

Mission Information: United Launch Alliance will use the final Delta II rocket to launch the Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) for NASA to measure the thickness of Earth’s polar ice sheets. The satellite’s primary instrument will pulse its laser at Earth 10,000 times a second and precisely measure the time it takes the beams to bounce off the ground and return to ICESat-2 to deduce the elevation below within the accuracy of 4 millimeters.

The satellite advances the capabilities of its predecessor, ICESat-1, launched by a Delta II rocket and operated from 2003 to 2009.

Launch Notes: This will be the final flight of the venerable Delta II rocket, which has been in use since 1989.

Launch Updates: To keep up to speed with updates to the launch countdown, dial the ULA launch hotline at 1-877-852-4321 or join the conversation at, and; hashtags #deltaii #icesat2


Go Delta! Go ICESat-2!


The Delta II rocket

United Launch Alliance’s Delta II rocket has provided dependable access to space for the U.S. military, NASA and commercial clients for nearly 30 years, launching 154 times since its debut on Feb. 14, 1989. The lasting legacy of the Delta II extends from creating modern GPS navigation on Earth to roving the surface of Mars.


  • Height: 132 feet
  • Weight: 358,000 pounds
  • Thrust: 650,000 pounds
  • Fuel: First stage uses kerosene and liquid oxygen; Second stage uses Aerozine 50 and nitrogen tetroxide

ICESat-2 will launch aboard a Delta II 7420-10C rocket features a kerosene-fueled first stage with an RS-27A main engine, four side-mounted solid rocket boosters that all ignite for liftoff, and a hypergolic second stage with an AJ10-118K engine. The payload is protected during atmospheric ascent by a 10-foot-diameter composite payload fairing.


A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta II 7420-10 rocket will deliver the Ice, Cloud and land Eleva- tion Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) spacecraft to a 250 nmi (463 km), near-circular polar orbit. Liftoff will occur from Space Launch Complex 2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.


Space Launch Complex 2

Space Launch Complex-2, the West Coast home of the Delta II rocket at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, is a classic launch pad design with a Fixed Umbilical Tower and a Mobile Service Tower. The rocket elements are sequentially hoisted and integrated atop the launch mount using the mobile gantry, which also provides the primary access and weather protection during pre-flight testing and then retracts a few hours before liftoff.

SLC-2 was constructed by the U.S. Air Force in 1958 for the Thor intermediate-range ballistic missile and has been in use by the Delta rocket family since 1966. ICESat-2 will be the 45th Delta II launch from this complex.