Space and astronomy news and information for the American Southwest. Coverage includes Vandenberg AFB rocket and missile launches.

NASA WISE Delta II Launch Successful

Vandenberg AFB Press Release

2009 December 14

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. - Mission planners are celebrating Vandenberg's final launch of the year following the successful launch of a Delta II rocket from Space Launch Complex-2 today at 6:09 a.m.

The rocket carried NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) satellite.

With confirmation of the payload's delivery into orbit and signal acquisition, the launch was pronounced a success.

"This is our final launch of the year," said Col. David Buck, the 30th Space Wing commander and the launch decision authority for this mission. "With eight successful Western Range launches for this year, I'd say we have had an outstanding year. Having led such a professional and dedicated team, you can expect another flawless year of launches from the 30th Space Wing."

Once on orbit, the WISE satellite will scan the entire sky with infrared light with a sensitivity hundreds of times greater than ever before, picking up the glow of hundreds of millions of objects and producing millions of images. The voluminous quantity of images the WISE satellite can generate will help scientists answer fundamental questions about the origins of planets, stars and galaxies, and provide data for astronomers.

The Delta II is an expendable launch, medium-lift vehicle. First launched in 1989, the Delta II's primary mission was to carry Air Force GPS satellites into orbit. Today, it is used to launch military, civil and commercial payloads into low-earth, polar, geosynchronous transfer and stationary orbits.

"Today's launch showcased some of the scientific opportunities provided by our spacelift capabilities," Colonel Buck said. "The scientific data this satellite provides will help scientists answer some fundamental questions about the origins of our universe as well as providing astronomers with much needed data."

Vandenberg is next scheduled to launch an Interceptor on Jan. 22, 2010.

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