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United Launch Alliance First East Coast Launch A Total Success

A United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket heads for orbit after lifting off from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Saturday, Feb.17, 2007. The rocket is carrying the THEMIS (Time and History of Events and Macroscale Interactions During Substorms) payload for NASA. Photo Credit: Carleton Bailie.Air Force supports NASA mission to study auroras
Cape Canaveral FL (AFNEWS) Feb 20 - Airmen from the 45th Space Wing supported the Feb. 17 launch of a Delta II booster carrying five NASA probes on a mission called "THEMIS," which will study auroral substorms, an avalanche of solar wind powered magnetic energy that intensifies the northern and southern lights. "We made history. This was the largest number of NASA scientific satellites launched on a single booster. It was a tremendous joint effort between the Air Force, NASA and industry," said Col. Tom Bouthiller, 45th Space Wing vice commander. "Congratulations to NASA and all of our mission partners on a great start to an endeavour that will help us unlock the mysteries of the auroras." The 45th SW provided launch base and eastern range support that helped ensure public safety and mission success via instrumentation such as radar, telemetry, communications and meteorological systems. THEMIS is an acronym for Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms. The THEMIS mission goal is to help scientists further understand how and why these space storms create havoc with satellites, power grids and communications systems.
by Staff Writers
Cape Canaveral FL (SPX) Feb 20, 2007
A Delta II expendable launch vehicle successfully launched NASA's Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms (THEMIS) spacecraft today marking the first east coast mission conducted by United Launch Alliance (ULA) since its formation Dec. 1, 2006. The Delta II rocket lifted off from Space Launch Complex 17-B at 6:01 p.m., EST. Following a nominal 73-minute flight, the rocket deployed the payload.

"The United Launch Alliance team is proud to support the science and robotic mission of NASA's space exploration program by successfully completing our first east coast launch," said Michael C. Gass, president and chief executive officer of ULA.

"While it's the first east coast ULA Delta II mission, it's the 103rd successful Cape Delta II launch in the program's proud history since its first flight in 1989. We are committed to providing assured access to space for all our customers and it continues with our next launch, an Atlas V with the DOD's Space Test Program payload in early March at the Cape."

The ULA Delta II 7925-10 configuration vehicle featured an ULA first stage booster powered by a Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne RS-27A main engine and nine Alliant Techsystems (ATK) strap-on solid rocket boosters. An Aerojet AJ10-118K engine powered the second stage. A spin-stabilized Star-48B solid-rocket motor built by ATK boosted the third stage. The payload was encased by a 10-foot- diameter composite payload fairing.

"This is the first of a total of 21 launches we have manifested in 2007 consisting of a dozen Delta IIs, six Atlas Vs and three Delta IVs from the east and west coasts," said Dan Collins, ULA chief operating officer. "As our team proved today, they are up to the task. By focusing on safe practices, customer needs and mission success, I believe 2007 will be a banner inaugural year for ULA."

Formed in 2006, ULA combines the successful Atlas and Delta expendable launch vehicle programs to offer cost-effective and reliable launch services to U.S. government customers, including the Department of Defense, NASA, the National Reconnaissance Office and other organizations.

earlier related report
ATK Composite and Propulsion Technologies Help Launch NASA THEMIS Satellite
Minneapolis (SPX) Feb 20 Alliant Techsystems propulsion and composite technologies supported Saturday's successful launch of the United Launch Alliance's Delta II rocket carrying NASA's Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms (THEMIS) satellites. Five spacecraft make up the THEMIS configuration.

Nine GEM-40 solid propulsion strap-on boosters manufactured in ATK's Salt Lake City, Utah facility provided augmented thrust for the launch. ATK's Clearfield, Utah facility produced the composite cases for the GEM-40 boosters using an automated filament winding process developed and refined through its 40-year-heritage in composite manufacturing. Six of the boosters ignited at lift-off with the first-stage main engine and provided over 850,000 pound maximum thrust for the launch vehicle.

Just over one minute later, the remaining three boosters ignited to provide an additional 450,000 pound maximum thrust. The spent motors were jettisoned from the rocket as it continued its ascent.

Following burnout and separation of the GEM-40 boosters and the rocket's liquid second stage, an ATK-produced STAR(TM) 48B third-stage rocket motor completed payload separation approximately 58 minutes into flight.

earlier related report
Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne Powers Mission to Study Earth's Magnetosphere
Canoga Park CA (SPX) Feb 20 - Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne's RS-27A rocket engine powered five NASA scientific satellites into orbit today. The purpose of the mission is to unlock the mysteries of Earth's geomagnetic substorms. The engine propelled the United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket from the pad at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 6:01 p.m. Eastern time. Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne is a United Technologies company.

This was the 213th consecutive successful launch for the RS-27 family of engines, maintaining a 100-percent success record dating back to the 1970s. "Reliability is the strong suit of the RS-27A," said Elizabeth Jones, PWR RS-27A Program Manager. "The mission powered by the RS-27A today will enable us to learn more about what triggers these potentially dangerous substorms."

Firing for slightly over four minutes with 200,000 pounds of thrust as the first stage of the Delta II, the RS-27A positions the rocket for a second stage burn and the successful deployment of the five THEMIS probes.

The THEMIS payload of five probes is one of the largest number of scientific satellites launched into orbit aboard a single rocket. THEMIS stands for Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions During Substorms. The satellites will gather data on the Northern and Southern Lights to help understand how to mitigate the impact of these energy releases on other satellites, power grids and communications systems.

Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne, Inc., a part of Pratt and Whitney, offers a complete line of propulsion products from launch vehicles to missile defense to advanced hypersonic propulsion. These have been used in a wide variety of government and commercial applications, including the main engines for the space shuttle, Atlas and Delta launch vehicles, and high altitude defense systems.

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ILS Proton To Launch Ciel-2 Satellite To Serve North America
McLean, VA (SPX) Feb 16, 2007
International Launch Services (ILS) has signed a contract for the launch of the Ciel-2 satellite on a Proton Breeze M vehicle in late 2008. Financial details were not disclosed. The Ciel-2 satellite will be the inaugural launch undertaken by the Ciel Satellite Group, Canada's newest satellite operator. SES Americom was the contracting agent for the launch. "This award is a very important win for us," said Frank McKenna, ILS president.

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