Venerable Delta II launch vehicle successfully puts NASA’s SMAP mission into orbit plus some cubesats

by | Feb 2, 2015 | Launches, NASA, Satellites, Science, Seradata News | 0 comments

NASA turned the clock back to use one of the last Delta II rockets to launch its SMAP (Soil Moisture Active and Passive) mission into orbit.  The Delta II 7320-10C launch to a Sun-synchronous near polar low Earth orbit took place from the Vandenberg launch site in California at 1422 GMT on 31 January 2014.  The 944kg SMAP spacecraft is designed to use a  6-m L-band antenna synthetic aperture radar for weather and flood analysis.  The launch was operated on behalf of NASA by the United Launch Alliance (ULA).

Alongside the main payload were four cubesat-class spacecraft. After a second firing, all four were released into orbit.  Two, Firebird 2A and 2B, were 1.5U cubesats built by Montana State University for science research, Grifex is a technology test 3U cubesat satellite built by the University of Michigan and Exocube CP10 is a Cal Poly built 3U cubesat for atmospheric science.

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