Aqua launch timeline
Updated: May 1, 2002

T-00:00.0 Liftoff
The Delta 2 rocket's main engine and twin vernier steering thrusters are started moments before launch. The six ground-start strap-on solid rocket motors are ignited at T-0 to begin the mission.
T+01:04.0 Ground SRM Burnout
The six ground-start Alliant TechSystems-built solid rocket motors consume all their propellant and burn out.
T+01:05.5 Air-Lit SRM Ignition
The three remaining Alliant TechSystems-built solid rocket motors strapped to the Delta 2 rocket's first stage are ignited.
T+01:26.0 Jettison Ground SRMs
The six spent ground-lit solid rocket boosters are jettisoned to fall into the Pacific Ocean, with three coming off at T+plus 86 seconds and three at T+plus 87 seconds. The spent casings remained attached until the vehicle passed into preset drop zone, clear of offshore oil platforms.
T+02:11.5 Jettison Air-Lit SRMs
Having burned out, the three spent air-started solid rocket boosters are jettisoned toward the Pacific Ocean.
T+04:23.5 Main Engine Cutoff
After consuming its RP-1 fuel and liquid oxygen, the Rocketdyne RS-27A first stage main engine is shut down. The vernier engines cut off moments later.
T+04:31.5 Stage Separation
The Delta rocket's first stage is separated now, having completed its job. The spent stage will fall into the Pacific Ocean.
T+04:37.0 Second Stage Ignition
With the stage jettisoned, the rocket's second stage takes over. The Aerojet AJ10-118K liquid-fueled engine ignites for the first of two firings needed to boost the upper stage and Aqua spacecraft into the proper orbit.
T+04:43.0 Jettison Nose Cone
The 10-foot diameter composite payload fairing that protected the Aqua satellite atop the Delta 2 during the atmospheric ascent is jettisoned is two halves.
T+11:10.9 Second Stage Cutoff 1
The second stage engine shuts down to complete its first firing of the launch. The vehicle should be in an elliptical orbit of 100 by 382 nautical miles at 98.14 degrees inclination. The rocket and attached satellite now begin a 42-minute coast period before the second stage reignites.
T+53:41.5 Second Stage Restart
Once coasting to the high point of its parking orbit, the Delta's second stage engine reignites for a short firing to circularize the orbital altitude.
T+54:00.3 Second Stage Cutoff 2
The second stage shuts down after reaching a near-circular orbit of 364.7 by 371.2 nautical miles inclined 98.17 degrees.
T+59:30.0 Satellite Separation
NASA's Aqua Earth Observing System spacecraft is deployed into space from the second stage, completing the 291st flight of a Delta rocket.

Data source: Boeing.

Flight Data File
Vehicle: Delta 2 (7920-10L)
Payload: Aqua
Launch date: May 4, 2002
Launch time: 0954:58-1004:58 GMT (5:54:58-6:04:58 a.m. EDT)
Launch site: SLC-2W, Vandenberg AFB, Calif.
Satellite broadcast: GE-2, Transponder 9, C-band

Pre-launch briefing
Orbit trace - Maps showing the ground track for the launch.

Aqua - General overview of this NASA spacecraft.

Science goals - Aqua's science objectives and mission goals.

Satellite instruments - Description of each of the six instruments on Aqua.

Delta 2 rocket - Overview of the Delta 2 7920-model rocket used in this launch.

SLC-2W - The launch pad where Delta rockets fly from Vandenberg.

Delta directory - See our coverage of preview Delta rocket flights.