Delta II Launch to Feature 1st Boeing Dual Primary Payload

History will be made at Boeing on Tuesday, Nov. 21, when a Delta II rocket carries a dual payload into space for NASA and Argentina.

It will be the first time a Delta II rocket has carried two distinctly different primary payloads -- with different mission and integration requirements -- for separate customers on the same launch. The rocket is scheduled to be launched at 10:24 a.m. PST from Space Launch Complex 2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base. The launch window is 22 seconds.

The Delta II actually will carry three payloads: two primary and a secondary. The two primary payloads include the first of the NASA New Millennium program's earth-observing missions (EO-1), plus Argentina's first earth-observing satellite, the Satelite de Aplicaciones Cientificas-C (SAC-C). The secondary payload is Munin, a Swedish nanosatellite.

"Boeing will be able to launch its first dual payload because of a new dispenser called the Dual Payload Attach Fitting (DPAF)," says Joy Bryant, director of NASA programs for the Boeing Delta program, who is the company's mission director for this launch. "The DPAF allows us to compete in a different class with smaller rockets."

NASA contracted with Boeing to develop the DPAF. Boeing worked with Astrium -- a European aerospace company with activities in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom -- to create the dispenser.

NASA wanted to be able to fly its small satellites on a reliable vehicle, Bryant said, and the Boeing Delta II rocket fit that requirement perfectly.

Two additional Boeing Delta II launches at Vandenberg in 2001 will carry dual primary payloads for NASA and other customers.

The EO-1 mission will perform earth observation tasks at approximately 25 percent of the usual cost of the previous Landsat missions. Its primary demonstrations are specifically oriented at the land remote-sensing technologies, spacecraft, and methodologies that will be used in defining future Landsat-type missions. The three instruments on EO-1 are the Advanced Land Imager, the Hyperion Hyperspectral Imager, and the Linear Etalon Imaging Spectral Array Atmospheric Corrector.

The SAC-C satellite is the first deployable launch by the Argentine Commission on Space Activities. It will integrate multiple instruments under an international cooperation program. The satellite is designed to study terrestrial and marine ecosystems, measure space radiation and determine variability in the atmospheric structure, provide measurements of the geomagnetic field, and measure the long wavelength component of the gravity field.

Munin -- the secondary payload designed and built by college students -- will be separated from the Delta II's second stage guidance section after the primary payloads have been deployed. It was designed and built by the Swedish Institute of Space Physics in cooperation with students at Sweden's Umea and Lelea universities. Munin's primary objectives include gathering space weather data, monitoring auroral activity and serving as a testbed for very small, autonomous monitoring satellites. The king of Sweden, Carl XVI Gustaf, signed the Munin's base plate, and his signature was etched into it.

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