The United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket slated to launch NASA’s Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2, or ICESat-2, has made significant progress toward liftoff, planned for Sept. 12. Prelaunch preparations are well underway at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, where the rocket is coming together at Space Launch Complex 2. Earlier this month the booster, or first stage, was lifted into place in the complex’s mobile service tower, followed by installation of the rocket’s four solid rocket motors, as well as the interstage, a connector that adjoins the first and second stages. The rocket’s second stage was lifted and installed atop the booster on Thursday, June 21.
The ICESat-2 spacecraft arrived at Vandenberg on June 12 and is undergoing its own processing activities inside the Astrotech Space Operations facility.
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center manages development of the ICESat-2 mission, including mission systems engineering and mission operations on behalf of the agency’s Earth Science Division. The ICESat-2 spacecraft was built and tested by Northrop Grumman in Gilbert, Arizona. The satellite will carry a single instrument called the Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System, or ATLAS, built and tested at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. United Launch Alliance of Centennial, Colorado, is providing the Delta II launch service. NASA’s Launch Services Program, based at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, is responsible for launch service acquisition, integration, analysis, and launch management.