NASA and its 1$ Billion Mission to Track Changing Ice Levels

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NASA planned a mission that cost the company $1 billion and aims to track the Earth’s changing ice levels. It was soared into space yesterday morning on 15th of September, and it launched into a predawn California sky. This mission is the record-setting rocket’s last one.

The record-setting rocket

At 9:02 a.m. EDT (6:02 a.m. PDT or 1302 GMT) from Vandenberg Air Force Base in Southern California where the Space Launch Complex-2 is located, the land Elevation Satellite-2, Cloud and Ice, or ICESat-2 lifted off. This was Delta II rockets’ the unprecedented 100th successful flight which took the United Launch Alliance (ULA) 30 years to build, deployed commercial telecommunication constellations, lofted the first GPS satellites and sent NASA robotic probes enabling the exploration and study of Mars, the moon and the asteroids.

The Delta II, for its 155th and final mission and final mission flew in its 7420-10 configuration and was outfitted with four Graphite Epoxy Motor (GEM) side-mounted boosters which got jettisoned 1 minute and 22 seconds into the flight + a payload fairing measuring 10 feet in diameter (3 meters) and was also disposed after about 4 minutes when the rocket was already in space. The first of its four planned burns of Delta II was completed by the second stage engine 11 minutes after liftoff and the rocket was placed into an initial elliptical transfer orbit.

AJ10-118K is Delta II’s second stage engine which 47 minutes into the mission reignited for 6 seconds before deploying ICESat-2 into orbit. The stage fired again 23 minutes later in order to set up the four small satellites’ release.

UCLA (University of Central Florida) and Cal Poly both build and designed the tiny CubeSats. They aim to conduct research in changing electric potential, space weather and resulting discharge events on spacecraft + damping behavior of tungsten powder in a zero-gravity environment.


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