Delta-IV/DMSP F17 launch from Vandenberg AFB
(Download a higher resolution picture by clicking on any picture below.)
The Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) F-17 Block 5D-3 spacecraft was lofted into orbit from Space Launch Complex 6 (SLC-6, pronounced slick six) by a Delta-IV rocket shortly before dawn, at 5:53 AM PST on Saturday, November 4, 2006. The liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen propellants produce water vapor exhaust. The rocket exhaust is transparent except for a condensation trail at lower altitudes.
A smaller cloud illuminated by sunlight at high altitude appears to have been the result of a staging event. The planet Saturn is visible near the left edge of the image.
The high altitude cloud faded away in a couple of minutes.
Eighteen minutes and twenty-seven seconds after launch, the weather satellite was released from the fourth stage of the booster.
SLC-6 was built forty years ago to support launches of the Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) program. The Air Force had intended to launch MOL missions on Titan IIIM boosters. The laboratory was mounted in a modified Titan propellant tank. The Gemini-B capsule was equipped with a door in the heat shield for the crew to access the laboratory. The MOL program was cancelled in 1969.
SLC-6 was modified to support space shuttle launches in the 1970s, but the Air Force space shuttle program was cancelled following the loss of Challenger in 1986.
In the 1990s, a "milkstool" was installed over one of the flame trenches at SLC-6 to support launches of smaller rockets. One Lockheed-Martin Launch Vehicle and two Athenas were launched from SLC-6. The Delta IV is the first rocket on a scale commensurate with the structure of SLC-6 to be launched from the space launch complex.
More Vandenberg AFB launch photography.
You can buy a 2018 calendar featuring my photographs of rocket launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base.
Photos of thirteen rocket launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base:
Pegasus-XL/Wide-Field Infra-red Explorer (WIRE) March 4, 1999
Atlas-IIAS/Terra December 18, 1999
Delta II/Gravity Probe B, April 20, 2004
Minotaur/Streak September 22, 2005
Titan IV/National Reconnaissance Office satellite, October 19, 2005
Minuteman III, February 16, 2006
Minuteman III, April 2, 2008
Target Launch Vehicle, September 24, 2008
Delta-II/GeoEye 1, September 6, 2008
Delta II/Jason 2, June 20, 2008
Delta II/COSMO-Skymed, October 24, 2008
Taurus/Orbiting Carbon Observatory, February 24, 2009
Delta-II/Worldview 2, October 28, 2009
Put a copy of the Rocket Launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base: 2018 Calendar in your Lulu.com shopping cart for $14.95.
The home page of the 30th Space Wing
Brian Webb's Space Archive Page provides launch schedule and ham radio information.
Boeing's Delta-IV Launch Vehicles Page.
SpaceflightNow's Delta-IV Launch Vehicles Page.
Boeing's Delta-IV/NROL-22 Page.
GlobalSecurity.org's SLC-6 Page.
Federation of American Scientists' SLC-6 Page.
Wikipedia SLC-6 Page.
Visit SLC-6 on Google Earth.
Wikipedia Manned Orbiting Laboratory Page.
Send a message to Brian .