Delta II to Give OCO-2 a Lift to Orbit

OCO-2’s ride into space is the United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket, a vehicle with a lengthy and reliable history. From Earth-observing missions like Aquarius, CloudSat and CALIPSO, to interplanetary voyages such as the Mars Phoenix lander, and astronomy missions like Kepler and WISE, the Delta II has boosted many of NASA’s most well-known missions into Earth orbit and beyond.

The Delta II standing on the launch pad today is 128 feet tall and eight feet in diameter, with a 10-foot payload fairing. The vehicle consists of two stages, plus a trio of solid-rocket boosters attached to the first stage. At T-0, the solids will ignite along with the first stage’s RS-27A engine. The first-stage engine is powered by a combination of liquid oxygen and RP-1, a refined kerosene fuel already on board the rocket. The second-stage tanks already are filled with hypergolic propellants that will burn when they touch each other — no need for an ignition source.

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