Wednesday, September 7, 2011

NASA GRAIL Mission to Launch September 8

The Mars Pathfinder launches on a Delta II from LC-17 on December 4, 1996. Image source: The Boeing Company.

The NASA GRAIL mission is due to launch Thursday September 8, with the first 60-second launch window at 8:37 AM EDT and the second at 9:16 AM EDT.

It's scheduled to be the last launch of a Delta II from the historic Launch Complex 17. According to Wikipedia:

Pad 17A supported its first Thor missile launch on 3 August 1957, and Pad 17B supported its first Thor launch on 25 January 1957. The site was upgraded in the early 1960s to support a variety of more modern ELVs, which were derived from the basic Thor booster. The modern ELVs based on Thor came to be called the Delta family of rockets.

Florida Today has more on LC-17 and the history of the Delta II rocket.

Launch Complex 17 in 2007 with a Delta II on Pad B.

SpaceFlight Now reported on August 21 that United Launch Alliance has five Delta IIs left in its inventory, and has proposed adding them to NASA's inventory for possible future missions.

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