A Delta 2 launches from Vandenberg. Credit: Justin Ray/Spaceflight Now

Delta 2 rocket gets another launch order from NASA

Posted: February 22, 2013

NASA has boosted its future plans using the venerable Delta 2 rocket, announcing Friday it would buy a fourth vehicle for upcoming Earth science research projects.

The United Launch Alliance vehicle has flown 151 times since debuting on Valentine’s Day 1989 and amassed a reliability rating of 98.7 percent. The track record includes only one outright failure and a remarkable string of 96 consecutive successful launches since 1997.

But after the U.S. Air Force transitioned its launches of new Global Positioning System satellites to the Delta 4 and Atlas 5 rockets, the Delta 2 lost its anchor customer.

For a time, it appeared the Delta 2 would fade into history after carrying a climate and weather observatory into orbit for NASA in October 2011.

But NASA breathed new life into the rocket last July, purchasing three future flights from an inventory of five remaining Delta 2s.

Friday’s news buys a fourth of the five, leaving the elements of just one unsold rocket remaining in the stockpile.

This latest deal will carry the agency’s second Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite into orbit from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. ICESat 2 is slated for liftoff from Space Launch Complex 2-West in July 2016.

Read more: Spaceflight Now | Delta Launch Report | Delta 2 rocket gets another launch order from NASA.

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