by Staff Sgt. Raymond Hoy, 30th Space Wing Public Affairs
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- History was made for the Italian space community with Vandenberg's successful launch of a Delta II rocket June 7. The rocket took off at 7:34 p.m. from Space Launch Complex-2 carrying the Thales Alenia-Space COSMO-SkyMed Satellite.
This was the first of a constellation of four Italian satellites -- the first of two to be launched from Vandenberg. The constellation will be an end-to-end Earth observation system composed of four, medium-sized (1,100 - 2,200 - pound) satellites. It will support ground stations for orbit control systems and data reception and processing.
The system will take imagery of the Earth using an X-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar instrument at the request of institutional and commercial users, including members of the defense, civil and scientific communities.
Thales Alenia Space-Italia developed the COSMO-SkyMed program for the Italian Space Agency and the Italian Ministry of Defence. While more than 50 Italians have been working on base to prepare the satellite for lift off, another 150 flew in from Italy to observe the event.
"It is very emotional," said a tearful Francesca Sette, Thales Alenia Space-Italia. "We worked very hard for six months on this event; and during the last six months, we began to work 24 hours per day to ensure we completed this project on time."
The group from the Italian launch community used the Pacific Coast Club here to observe the event. An extravagant undetaking, it included everything from 30 plasma screen televisions, to a live broadcast from Rome with a speech by Italian Minister of Defense, Arturo Parisi.
After watching the rocket lifting off the pad during a live broadcast in the PCC, an Italian train of 100 people went hurrying through the door to observe the Delta II rocketing through the sky outside. People were jumping up and down and hugging each other in celebration.
"It was so beautiful," said Mara Midealo, the wife of a Thales Alenia employee. "This was my first launch, and it was a great event."
Col. Steve Tanous, 30th Space Wing commander, was the spacelift commander for this mission, and final go-for-launch authority.
"This was a testament to the tremendous team effort between the 30th Space Wing and our industry partners," he said. "Teamwork was the backbone to the success of this launch and getting the Italian satellite into orbit." Mission Stats from Btown:
Payload Name: COSMO-1 (Constellation of Small Satellites for Mediterranean basin Observation)/COSMO-SkyMed
International Designator: 2007-023A
NORAD SSC#: 31598
Launch Site: Vandenberg AFB, Western Test Range, SLC2
Launch Vehicle: Delta 7420-10
Inclination: 97.86 deg
Period: 97.19 min
Apogee/Perigee: 626 x 622 km
Two line elsets from Celestrak:
1 31598U 07023A 07169.34521343 .00018670 00000-0 23581-2 0 428
2 31598 97.8569 359.5928 0002891 91.1431 269.0271 14.81929641 1511
DELTA 2 R/B
1 31599U 07023B 07169.25705436 .00170635 27840-5 22601-3 0 223
2 31599 98.3896 357.8877 0306050 243.3717 113.5883 15.55978559 1579