smap-launch-9Liftoff of the Delta II rocket carrying NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive spacecraft, beginning a three-year mission to measure and map the water locked in Earth’s soil in greater detail than ever before. The rocket is climbing up and away from Space Launch Complex 2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

SMAP Configured for Launch

Final polling is complete and SMAP is configured for launch at 9:22 a.m. EST.

The Delta II rocket will depart the launch pad heading south at an azimuth of 196 degrees. The three ATK solid rocket motors will burn for 65 seconds and be jettisoned 99 seconds into flight. Delta II main engine cutoff will occur four minutes, 22 seconds after launch. Four minutes, 55 seconds after liftoff the Delta II fairing will be jettisoned, exposing SMAP to space. Second stage engine cutoff will occur at 10 minutes, 43 seconds, beginning a 40-minute coast phase. Then the second stage engine will restart for about 12 seconds, placing SMAP in the desired orbit. The spacecraft will separate from the Delta 56 minutes, 50 seconds into flight.