NASA's Launch Services Program has chosen United Launch Alliance's (ULA) proven Delta II launch vehicle for three future missions, the agency said Monday. The newly contracted missions include Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) scheduled to launch in July 2014, Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) scheduled to launch in October 2014, and the Joint Polar Satellite System-1 (JPSS) scheduled to launch in 2016. All three missions will launch from Space Launch Complex-2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB) in California.
"While we count success one mission at a time, we have been able to count on the Delta II's success 97 times in a row over the last decade," said Michael Gass, ULA president and CEO. "This is a tribute to our dedicated ULA employees, our supplier teammates and our NASA Launch Services Program customer who ensure mission success is the focus of each and every launch."
ULA's Delta II has launched the majority of NASA's critical science missions over the last decade including the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity, Genesis, Phoenix Mars Lander, Stardust, the twin GRAIL spacecraft and most recently the NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP) from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California October 2011. "The Delta II vehicle continues to offer excellent reliability and best value to our customers," said Gass. "We look forward to working with NASA for these future Delta II launch campaigns."
ULA's next launch is the Atlas V NROL-36 mission for the NRO scheduled Aug. 2 from Space Launch Complex-3 at VAFB, followed by the Atlas V Radiation Belt Storm Probes mission for NASA on Aug. 23 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.