Boeing [BA] on Nov. 5 successfully launched the last in a series of four SkyMed spacecraft for the Italian Constellation of Small Satellites for Mediterranean basin Observation (COSMO).
“We are delighted to have met the requirements of our Thales Alenia Space customer with this mission,” Ken Heinly, director, Boeing Launch Products & Services, and president, Boeing Launch Services Inc., said in a statement. “This fourth Delta launch for the COSMO-SkyMed program continues the unparalleled reliability and accurate performance of the Delta II rocket with 93 consecutive successful launches since 1997.”
A Delta II rocket, procured from United Launch Alliance for Thales Alenia Space, lifted off from pad Space Launch Complex-2W, Vandenberg Air Force Base, at 7:20 p.m. Pacific time. The COSMO SkyMed-4 spacecraft was deployed to low Earth orbit approximately 58 minutes after liftoff.
It was the 350th Delta rocket launch in the program’s 50-year history.
Boeing launched the preceding COSMO-SkyMed satellites in June and December 2007 and October 2008.
Thales Alenia Space developed the COSMO-SkyMed program for the Italian Space Agency and the Italian Ministry of Defence.
It is an end-to-end Earth-observation, civil and military system comprised of four medium-sized satellites as well as supporting ground stations that provide orbit control systems, data reception and processing.
The system will take images of the Earth using an X-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar instrument capable of operating in all visibility conditions. This instrument was installed at the request of institutional and commercial users, including members of the civil, scientific and defense communities.
Boeing has a long-standing relationship with Thales Alenia Space. The European company has provided Delta II fuel tanks since 2001 and built many elements for the International Space Station (ISS), including the Multi-purpose Pressurized Logistics Modules, the Cupola and Harmony Node 2.
Thales Alenia Space also constructed the Permanent Multipurpose Module that will be delivered to the ISS on Space Shuttle Discovery mission STS-133. Boeing is the prime contractor for the ISS.
The first Delta launch took place on May 13, 1960. The Delta II used today has demonstrated a 98.6 percent success rate and, while ULA launches one mission at a time, COSMO- SkyMed 4 marks the 93rd successful launch of a Delta II dating back to 1997.