After Saturday’s successful final launch of a United Launch Alliance Delta II in California, the venerable rocket is being retired, and the final vehicle will be displayed at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, the spacecraft provider announced.
“The Delta II rocket has been a venerable workhorse for NASA and civilian scientists, the U.S. military, and commercial clients throughout its almost 30 years of service,” Tory Bruno, ULA president and CEO, stated in a news release. “This program comes to a close with the final launch of NASA’s ICESat-2, but its legacy will continue, and the Visitor Complex will help us keep the story of the success of this much-revered rocket in the hearts and minds of the public.”
The final Delta II in stock, 125 feet tall, will be set up in the KSC Visitor Complex Rocket Garden, alongside other rockets that have brought everything from astronauts to satellites into space over the past 60 years.
The final launch of a Delta II, the 154th successful mission for the rocket, took place Saturday from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, carrying the ICESat-2 plus four miniature “CubeSats,” including one from the University of Central Flordia, into orbit.
The maiden Delta II took flight on Valentine’s Day in 1989, successfully delivering the first operational GPS satellite into space. Its resume includes several trips to Mars as well as the planet-hunting Kepler, the twin lunar-orbiting GRAIL spacecraft, 48 GPS satellites and numerous commercial imaging and communications satellites.