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Delta II scheduled to light morning sky at Vandenberg

A Delta II rocket successfully launches at 7:28 p.m. October 24 from Vandenberg’s Space Launch Complex-2.  The rocket took off carrying the Thales Alenia-Space COSMO-SkyMed 3 Satellite.  (Courtesy Photo)

A Delta II rocket is scheduled to launch between 2 - 3 a.m on Feb.4. The rocket will be carrying a NOAA-N Prime polar-orbiting weather satellite. (Courtesy Photo)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- A Delta II is scheduled to launch from Space Launch Complex-2 here between 2 - 3 a.m. Wednesday. 

The rocket will carry the NOAA-N Prime polar-orbiting weather satellite for NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 

The NOAA-N Prime satellite will improve weather forecasting and monitor environmental events around the world, according to the NASA Web site. NOAA-N Prime is the fifth and last in the current series of five polar-orbiting satellites with improved imaging and sounding capabilities. 

The satellite will collect meteorological data and transmit the information to NOAA's Satellite and Information Service, which processes the data for input to the National Weather Service for its long-range weather and climate forecasts, according to NASA. Forecasters worldwide will have access to the satellite's images and data. 

NOAA-N Prime's sensors will monitor for distress signals around the world using its Search and Rescue Satellite-Aided Tracking System, according to NASA.
 
During a launch, Vandenberg commands and controls the Western Range to ensure the Delta II NOAA-N launch is consistent with mission requirements and flight safety constraints, said Capt. Benjamin Sweeney, the 2nd Range Operations Squadron range control officer. 

Team Vandenberg will support the launch up until the Delta II leaves the Western Range, a time period that is calculated to a half of a second. 

"At 448.5 seconds we have safely reached the end of Vandenberg's mission," said Captain Sweeney. "At that point, our commercial partners take over. This allows us to have the ability to destroy the rocket if we feel there is a potential threat to the Central Coast's population. No matter how important a payload is to science or whatever, our number one priority is the safety of the community around us. " 

When liftoff approaches, people from miles around Vandenberg will be able to see the hard work, long hours and mission dedication that Team Vandenberg puts in to not only help the Air Force, but the global populace. 

The series of weather satellites that have launched from Vandenberg will not end natural disasters, but they will bring us closer to understanding them, which in return means more preparation time to save lives.