Delta II/COSMO-SkyMed 3 Satellite Launch
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The third Italian COSMO-SkyMed mission was launched on a Delta-II booster from Space Launch Complex 2 at 7:28:12 PM PST on Friday, October 24, 2008. In order to place it in the same orbital plane as the first two COSMOS-Skymed satellites, the launch window was only one second long.
The COSMO-3 satellite was launched into polar orbit on a Delta II rocket from Space Launch Complex 2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base at 7:28 and 12 seconds on the evening of Friday, October 24. This time exposure captures the launch from ignition to burn out of the first stage main engine, 4 minutes 36 seconds after launch. The second stage is too faint to register in this image. The lights of the City of Buellton can be seen on the lower right. The planet Venus is the brightest astronomical object to the left of center. This picture was taken in the Santa Ynez Mountains about 35 miles east of the launch pad.
I used two Nikon D200s with 18mm lenses set to f3.5. I used the interval timer to shoot a sequence of images with each camera. For some reason that I have not determined, the interval timers don't work properly at the maximum exposure of 30 seconds. I worked around that problem by shooting eight-second exposures. The ascending Delta II appeared in fifteen frames taken by the right camera and twenty frames taken by the left camera. I stacked the frames from each camera, using the screen blending mode. When I stitched the images together, I found that the sky in the left stack did not match the sky in the right stack. It was missing the light contributed from the ascent of the rocket before it entered the frame. I stacked the twelve images before the rocket appeared in the field of view of the left camera to add the illumination to the sky. A total of 47 images were composited to assemble the panorama. The interval timer imposes a minimum one-second delay between frames. The stacked images had gaps in the launch streak that were easily filled using the clone stamp.
This view of the launch was taken with a 70mm lens.
Comparison with previous Delta-II launches reveals their different trajectories.
Jason 2 was launched on June 20, 2008.
The second Italian COSMO-SkyMed mission was launched on a Delta-II booster at 6:31 PM PST on Saturday, December 8, 2007.
The Cloudsat and CALIPSO satellites were launched into orbit by a Delta-II rocket at 3:02:16 AM PDT Friday April 28, 2006.
The NOAA-18 satellite was launched from Vandenberg AFB on a Delta II booster at 3:22 A.M on Friday, May 20, 2005.
NASA's AURA satellite was launched from Vandenberg AFB on a Delta II booster at 3:02 A.M on Thursday, July 15, 2004.
The AQUA spacecraft, part of NASA's Earth Observing System (EOS), was launched from Space Launch Complex 2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base by a Delta-II at 2:54 A.M. on May 4, 2002. This is a three frame composite time exposure taken from the crest of the Santa Ynez Mountains about 35 miles from the launch pad.
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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