ICESat/CHIPSat launch timeline
Posted: January 8, 2003

T-00:00.0 Liftoff
The Delta 2 rocket's main engine and twin vernier steering thrusters are started moments before launch. The three strap-on solid rocket motors are ignited at T-0 to begin the mission.
T+01:04.0 SRM Burnout
The three ground-start Alliant TechSystems-built solid rocket motors consume all their propellant and burn out.
T+01:39.0 Jettison SRMs
The spent solid rocket boosters are jettisoned to fall into the Pacific Ocean. The spent casings remained attached until the vehicle passed into preset drop zone, clear of offshore oil platforms.
T+04:24.2 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+04:32.2 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+04:37.5 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 with the ICESat and CHIPSat spacecraft into the proper orbit.
T+04:57.0 Jettison Nose Cone
The 10-foot diameter composite payload fairing that protected the ICESat and CHIPSat satellites atop the Delta 2 during the atmospheric ascent is jettisoned is two halves.
T+11:05.3 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 322 nautical miles at 93.96 degrees of inclination. The rocket and attached satellite now begin a 48-minute coast period before the second stage reignites.
T+59:50.0 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+59:58.4 Second Stage Cutoff 2
The second stage shuts down after reaching a circular orbit of 318.6 nautical miles and 94.00 degrees of inclination.
T+63:50.0 Start Spinup
After maneuvering to the proper attitude for the upcoming deployment of ICESat, the upper stage spins up to 9.2 degrees per second.
T+64:00.0 ICESat Separation
NASA's Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) is deployed into space from the second stage for its Earth research mission.
T+80:00.0 Separate RH-DPAF
Once ICESat is deployed, the stage reorients and deploys the upper portion of the Reduced Height Dual Payload Attach Fitting structure is jettisoned from the rocket. ICESat was mounted atop RH-DPAF and CHIPSat is enclosed within the structure. The stage then maneuvers to the CHIPSat deploy attitude.
T+83:20.0 CHIPSat Separation
NASA's Cosmic Hot Interstellar Plasma Spectrometer Satellite (CHIPSat) is released for its mission to study the interstellar medium, completing the 294th flight of a Delta rocket.

Data source: Boeing.

Flight Data File
Vehicle: Delta 2 (7320-10C)
Payload: ICESat and CHIPSat
Launch date: Jan. 11, 2003
Launch time: 7:45-8:30 p.m. EST (0045-0130 GMT Jan. 12)
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.

ICESat - Overview of NASA's Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite.

CHIPSat - Description of NASA's Cosmic Hot Interstellar Plasma Spectrometer Satellite.

Science goals - Story on the science objectives of ICESat and CHIPSat.

Delta 2 rocket - Overview of the Delta 2 7320-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.

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