Launch Week Arrives for ICESat-2

The ICESat-2 mission will measure the changing height of Earth’s glaciers, ice sheets and sea ice, one laser pulse at a time, 10,000 laser pulses per second. Credit: NASA

NASA and United Launch Alliance launch and mission partners are gathered at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California for the final week of final prelaunch activities for the agency’s Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2, or ICESat-2. The three-year mission is scheduled to launch at 8:46 a.m. EDT (5:46 a.m. PDT) on Saturday, Sept. 15, with liftoff aboard a ULA Delta II rocket from Space Launch Complex-2 (SLC-2).

Launch of the ICESat-2 spacecraft also will mark the final flight of the Delta II, which has served as a workhorse for NASA, the U.S. military and other customers since its 1989 debut.

Several significant prelaunch milestones are complete. The ICESat-2 spacecraft has been transported from the Astrotech payload processing facility to SLC-2, where it has since been lifted, mated atop the rocket, and encapsulated inside the payload fairing that will protect it during the first minutes of flight.

Tune in Thursday for the prelaunch briefing at 4 p.m. EDT (1 p.m. PDT) on NASA TV, and be sure to follow NASA’s Launch Blog or NASA TV for countdown coverage beginning Saturday at 8:10 a.m. EDT (5:10 a.m. PDT).