A Boeing Delta II vehicle has successfully launched a US military payload this evening from Cape Canaveral.
MiTEx, the Micro-Satellite Technology Experiment, comprises of two micro-satellites that will demonstrate new technologies for the US military and DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency).
Launch was delayed from yesterday due to technical delays – and the initial launch time today was also put back before the eventual lift-off at 23:15 UK time.
“Today’s mission was a great team effort, involving talented people from DARPA, the Air Force, the launch range, The Aerospace Corporation and our suppliers, as well as the professionals on the Delta program,” said Dan Collins, vice president of Boeing Launch Systems. “The team faced many challenges, but maintained its focus on quality and teamwork throughout the mission.”
Today’s launch also marked the 250th Aerojet-supported Delta launch. Aerojet provided the second stage AJ10-118K engine. Other major Delta II hardware elements are the Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne RS-27A main engine, nine Alliant Techsystems GEM 40 solid rocket motors and the Boeing 9.5-foot diameter payload fairing.
The next Delta mission will be the first West Coast flight of a Boeing Delta IV launch vehicle, carrying a payload for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office from Space Launch Complex 6 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., later this month.
Meanwhile, Boeing announced via a press release today that GOES-N, the first of three Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES) built for NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), has reached its orbital slot 22,300 miles above the equator, and Boeing engineers have achieved a major milestone by transferring control of the satellite to NASA.
Following its launch last month on a Boeing Delta IV rocket, the advanced satellite successfully completed orbit-raising and key on-orbit operations such as spacecraft initialization and checkout. Boeing completed this key milestone, known as ‘engineering handover,’ two days ahead of schedule.
‘GOES-N has performed exceptionally well following a perfect launch last month, which has allowed us to achieve this milestone ahead of schedule,’ said Stephen T. O’Neill, president of Boeing Satellite Systems International, Inc. ‘GOES-N stands ready as the most advanced weather satellite ever built, and I am pleased to hand over the keys for this new satellite to NASA and NOAA.’
NASA now is operating the GOES-N spacecraft and conducting a six-month post-launch test program from the NOAA Satellite Operations Control Center in Suitland, Md. Boeing will advise NASA and NOAA engineers during the test program. After the program concludes, NASA will deliver GOES-N to NOAA for all future operations. On June 4, after GOES-N achieved geosynchronous orbit, NOAA renamed the spacecraft ‘GOES 13.’
Designed and manufactured at Boeing’s Satellite Development Center in El Segundo, Calif., the GOES-N series spacecraft are based on the popular three-axis Boeing 601 model satellite. The spacecraft’s technology should improve image accuracy by a factor of four using a more stable instrument platform and a precise geosynchronous stellar inertial attitude determination and control system.
The GOES-N satellite’s capabilities should support more accurate prediction and tracking of severe storms and other weather phenomena, resulting in earlier and more precise warnings to the public. GOES-N will support NOAA and NASA scientists collecting and analyzing real-time environmental data as well as rescuers responding to calls for help through a communication subsystem that includes a search and rescue capability to detect distress signals from land, sea and air.
Boeing’s 40 years of knowledge and experience in weather and Earth observation space systems underpins the next-generation environmental system in support of NOAA’s strategic mission: To understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment and conserve and manage coastal and marine resources to meet our nation’s economic, social, and environmental needs.
Boeing has completed the GOES-O satellite, which is currently in storage awaiting launch. The GOES-P satellite is undergoing final assembly and space environmental testing and is scheduled for completion within the next several months.