(Vandenberg AFB, Calif., December 14, 2009) -- Completing an incredible year in which it launched 16 successful missions, United Launch Alliance capped 2009 with the launch of a Delta II carrying NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) spacecraft at 6:09 a.m. PST, today. Rocketing from Space Launch Complex-2, the launch was the eighth Delta II of 2009 and represents the 37th successful mission launched by United Launch Alliance in its first 36 months of operation. ULA's first launch took place Dec. 14, 2006, and since then 11 Atlas Vs, 21 Delta IIs, and 4 Delta IVs have launched with 100 percent mission success.
"I congratulate NASA, the 30th Space Wing, and all of our mission partners on a successful launch campaign, which culminated in today's picture perfect launch," said Jim Sponnick, Vice President, Delta Product Line. "My thanks to the NASA Kennedy Space Center Launch Services Program (LSP) for the outstanding teamwork demonstrated throughout the six ULA/NASA KSC launches this year. The men and women of ULA are extremely proud of our mission success record while merging the Atlas and Delta product lines into one cohesive team. Launching successfully 16 times in one year is no easy feat and 37 missions in 36 months is certainly a high water mark for our industry. We look forward to a great 2010 with several critical missions ahead of us."
WISE will scan the entire sky using an infrared telescope with sensitivity hundreds of times greater than ever before possible, picking up the glow of hundreds of millions of objects and producing millions of images. The mission will uncover objects never seen, including the coolest stars, the universe's most luminous galaxies and some of the darkest near-Earth asteroids and comets.
For the WISE mission, the spacecraft was launched on a Delta II 7320-10C configuration vehicle featuring a ULA first stage booster powered by a Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne RS-27A main engine and three Alliant Techsystems (ATK) strap-on solid rocket motors. An Aerojet AJ10-118K engine powered the second stage. The payload was encased by a 10-foot-diameter composite payload fairing.
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