Vandenberg launches second Delta IV rocket

A Delta IV rocket launches at 5:53 a.m. on Nov. 4 from Vandenberg's Space Launch Complex-6.  The rocket carried a Defense Meteorological Satellite Program satellite in to space.  The satellite will transition into a polar earth orbit to provide weather forcasts for servicemembers on battlefields around the world. (U.S. Air Force photo/Joe Davila)

A Delta IV rocket launches at 5:53 a.m. on Nov. 4 from Vandenberg's Space Launch Complex-6. The rocket carried a Defense Meteorological Satellite Program satellite in to space. The satellite will transition into a polar earth orbit to provide weather forcasts for servicemembers on battlefields around the world. (U.S. Air Force photo/Joe Davila)

A Delta IV rocket launches at 5:53 a.m. on Nov. 4 from Vandenberg's Space Launch Complex-6. The rocket carried a Defense Meteorological Satellite Program satellite in to space. The satellite will transition into a polar earth orbit to provide weather forcasts for servicemembers on battlefields around the world. (Photo by Thom Baur)

A Delta IV rocket launches at 5:53 a.m. on Nov. 4 from Vandenberg's Space Launch Complex-6. The rocket carried a Defense Meteorological Satellite Program satellite in to space. The satellite will transition into a polar earth orbit to provide weather forcasts for servicemembers on battlefields around the world. (Photo by Thom Baur)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Vandenberg successfully launched a Delta IV evolved expendable launch vehicle at 5:53 a.m. today from Space Launch Complex-6 carrying a Defense Meteorological Satellite Program satellite. 

The two-stage Delta IV medium booster hauled the 2,700-pound DMSP-17 spacecraft into a polar orbit around Earth. 

The approximately $445 million rocket was able to launch during its 10-minute window without any delays. A weather system off the coast of California created a 60 percent chance of mission delay; however, weather cleared in the early morning for no delay.
Col. Terry Djuric, 30th Space Wing vice commander, was the spacelift commander, or final "go for launch" authority, for this mission. 

"I'm extremely proud of the precision with which the base and the Vandenberg Launch Team planned and executed this Delta IV mission," Colonel Djuric said. "This west coast launch helped kick off the Air Force's year-long 60th anniversary celebration."
"With today's launch, Vandenberg has provided 100 percent assured access to space, successfully launching 17 DMSP satellites since the first DMSP satellite was launched in 1976." 

This launch is the second successful launch of a Delta IV from Vandenberg. The first was launched June 27, 2006. 

"From an operational perspective, this was another perfectly-executed mission by the entire team," said Lt. Col. David Goldstein, 4th Space Launch Squadron commander. "Vandenberg worked extremely well with our launch partners to bring everything together for that one perfect shot." Colonel Goldstein was the Air Force's launch director. 

The launch was Vandenberg's second using the Air Force's new family of evolved expendable launch vehicles. The EELV is designed to improve the United States' access to space by making space launch vehicles more affordable and reliable. The program is replacing the existing fleet of launch systems with two families of launch vehicles, each using common components and common infrastructure. The vehicles are the Boeing Delta IV and Lockheed Martin Atlas V. 

This was the seventh overall Delta IV to be launched from both Vandenberg and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. However, this will be the first DMSP satellite to ride the new rocket in to space. This was also the first DMSP launch since 2003. 

The DMSP provides current weather data to servicemembers on the battlefield all around the world on land, sea and air and has done so for more than 30 years. The satellite has the means to observe virtually the entire planet twice daily. The new F17 spacecraft will replace a nearly 11-year-old DMSP satellite. 

"As you know very well, weather permeates every one of those environments," said Col. Bradley Smith, commander of the Defense Meteorological System Group. "The success of this launch continues the 40 plus year legacy of providing environmental support for both the military and civilian users. Literally thousands of people have put tremendous effort into this. I am extremely proud of the hard work and dedication to mission that I have witnessed. I just really feel blessed to be associated with this whole team."
"I look forward to our continued efforts and to mission success as priority one," he added.