Delta II/National Reconnaissance Office L-21 Satellite Launch
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A classified National Reconnaissance Office satellite was launched into orbit from Space Launch Complex 2 West at Vandenberg Air Force Base by a Delta-II rocket at 1:00 PM PST Thursday, December 14. It has not been possible to establish communication with the satellite. It has been described as a comprehensive failure.
T+ 35 seconds. Ignition occurred right on schedule at 1:00 PM PST.
T+ 39 seconds. This was the first launch conducted by United Launch Alliance from Vandenberg Air Force Base.
T+ 47 seconds. The rocket was subject to maximum dynamic pressure at this point of the launch.
T+ 1 minute 13 seconds. The six ground-start Alliant Techsystems solid fuel boosters burned out 1 minute 11 seconds after launch.
T+ 1 minute 33 seconds.
T+ 1 minute 57 seconds.
T+ 2 minutes 22 seconds. The three air-start solid fuel boosters burned out 2 minutes 15 seconds after launch.
T+ 3 minutes 23 seconds. This is a wide-angle composite of five frames.
T+ 5 minutes 56 seconds.
T+ 6 minutes 18 seconds.
T+ 6 minutes 45 seconds.
T+ 12 minutes 48 seconds. The Big Crow NKC-135E Stratotanker tracked the ascending rocket's telemetry signal over the Pacific Ocean.
T+ 13 minutes 9 seconds.
T+ 14 minutes 54 seconds.
T+ 15 minutes 13 seconds. The L-21 satellite is headed for an orbit with an apogee of 203 nautical miles, a perigee of 191 miles, and an inclination of 58.5 degrees.
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
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