United Launch Alliance Successfully Delivers Aquarius Mission to Orbit for NASA and the Space Agency of Argentina

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif., June 10, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- A United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket carrying the Aquarius/SAC-D observatory for NASA and the Space Agency of Argentina lifted off from Space Launch Complex-2W here at 7:20 a.m. PDT today. This is ULA's sixth launch of the year and marked the 40th Delta II launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

"ULA is extremely proud to be a part of the Aquarius/SAC-D mission, which will offer scientists NASA's first global observations of ocean surface salinity from space to better understand ocean circulation and the resulting effects on our climate," said Jim Sponnick, ULA vice president, Mission Operations. "Today's successful launch is the culmination of years of hard work by NASA and the ULA launch team, along with our many other mission partners."

This mission was launched aboard a Delta II 7320-10 configuration vehicle featuring an 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.

"The Delta II vehicle continues to offer excellence, best value and continuous improvement to our customers," said Sponnick. "The reliability of this vehicle is a testament to the dedicated employees that ensure mission success is the top priority for each and every launch."  

NASA's Aquarius, the primary instrument on the SAC-D observatory, will provide unprecedented global maps of ocean surface salinity to better understand the links between ocean circulation, the global cycling of freshwater and climate.  

ULA's next launch is the Delta IV GPS IIF-2 mission for the United States Air Force mission currently scheduled for July 14, 2011 from Space Launch Complex-37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.

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. Launch operations are located at Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., and Vandenberg AFB, Calif.

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

SOURCE United Launch Alliance



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