Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. (Feb. 6, 2009) – A United Launch Alliance Delta II successfully launched the NASA NOAA-N Prime spacecraft at 2:22 a.m. PST, today. Rocketing from Space Launch Complex-2, the launch took place during the 20th year anniversary month of the first Delta II launch. The program’s first launch took place Feb. 14, 1989, from Space Launch Complex-17, Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., carrying a Global Positioning System satellite.

NOAA-N Prime, following a 65 minute flight, was deployed on its mission to improve weather forecasting and monitor environmental events around the world. It’s the last in the current series of five polar-orbiting satellites with improved imaging and sounding capabilities. Additionally, NOAA-N Prime carries instruments that support the Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking System (SARSAT), which relays emergency distress beacon information from mariners and aviators to rescue teams. Since SARSAT was established in 1982, more than 24,500 lives have been saved.

“We are proud to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Delta II by successfully launching this critically important spacecraft for both NASA and NOAA and we congratulate our mission partners on their success,” said Jim Sponnick, vice president, Delta Product Line. “Now with 138 successful launches, the Delta II is the proven worldwide leader of the medium class market.”

During the past two decades, Delta II launched some of America’s most famous and successful missions. NASA’s Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity, along with the Phoenix Mars Lander, were launched by Delta II. Additionally, NASA missions such as Mars Odyssey, Messenger, Dawn, GLAST, and THEMIS all began their journeys on a Delta II. For the military, all current GPS satellites and numerous NRO missions were launched in support of national defense by Delta II.

Delta II has also launched 43 commercial missions, the most by any U.S. launch vehicle. Building on this success, the Delta II product line currently has 12 NASA, military and commercial missions scheduled to launch through 2011.

Video Below: NOAA-N Prime (NOAA 19) Mission

“Everyone associated with the Delta II product line can take pride in its impressive success record and the contributions they made to scientific exploration, national defense and economic prosperity since 1989,” Sponnick said. “Our Delta II team realizes they didn’t do this alone and only succeeded due to the tremendous support from our government mission partners, suppliers and commercial customers.”

For the NOAA-N Prime 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. ULA’s next launch is the March 5 NASA Kepler mission aboard a Delta II from SLC-17.

ULA program management, engineering, test and mission support functions are headquartered in Denver, Colo. Manufacturing, assembly and integration operations are located at Decatur, Ala., Harlingen, Texas, San Diego, Calif., and Denver, Colo. Launch operations are located at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., and Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

For more information on the ULA joint venture, visit the ULA Web site at, or call the ULA Launch Hotline at 1-877-ULA-4321 (852-4321).