In 1960, a young NASA launched the first of twelve spacecraft on a small, general-purpose rocket called Delta. Cobbled together from the tested pieces of other, less dependable rockets, Delta was intended as a stopgap until more powerful vehicles could be developed.
Fifty years, dozens of upgrades, and more than 300 successes later, the Delta expendable launch vehicle remains the “magnificent little workhorse” of space. The satellites and space probes it has launched have revolutionized several industries and expanded the boundaries of science, and Delta II has set a high standard for launch vehicle reliability its record currently stands at 93 consecutive successes.
This site, the basis for a chapter in the NASA History Office book To Reach the High Frontier, provides:
NASA has announced the modification of its NASA Launch Services (NLS) II contract with United Launch Services, putting Delta II back on the menu. Parts for five Delta II vehicles have already been manufactured, and are now in storage; this contract modification will enable ULS to offer them to NASA for launch services between now and June 2020. [NASA Contract Release C11-044, 30-Sep-11]
The announcement means that the Delta II era might last beyond the launch of NPP, currently slated for 27 October. Of course, since the production line is out of commission, these five vehicles will be the last—but at least they have a chance to serve their purpose, rather than gather dust. Any remaining Delta II launches are expected to take place at Vandenberg’s SLC-2W.
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When Michigan governor Kinsley S. Bingham signed Act 130 into law in 1855, establishing the Agricultural College of the State of Michigan, he helped to ignite a spark that continues today as a bright torch of higher education.
The location chosen “for the teaching of scientific agriculture” was an undeveloped area of oak groves and tamarack swamps a few miles east of the state capitol in Lansing. Years of hard work (in both student labor and the political struggles of keeping the school intact) transformed the land into a splendid college campus. Soon, an adjacent college town arose and was chartered as the City of East Lansing.
Today, Michigan State University is the eighth-largest university in the United States by enrollment. East Lansing’s population numbers over 45,000, and it has expanded its role from mere faculty and student housing to become a cultural nexus for the mid-Michigan area.
This site comprises two separate but interconnected histories: a chronology of MSU’s early years, and a compendium of East Lansing’s significant structures, as determined by the city Historical Commission some twenty years ago.
The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes
Even before the moment in 1933 when Leo Szilard stepped off a curb and had his epiphany of nuclear fission, the Atomic Age was inevitable. Rhodes’ Pulitzer prizewinner makes the difficult concepts of physics and chemistry understandable without oversimplification, and explains the background of each discovery as well. This could have made for a dull, tedious read, but Rhodes uses honest drama and solid characterizations to create a ripping good tale. No other book covers both the history and the morality of this subject better.
More book reviews to come from the armchair.
Recent updates to kevinforsyth.net:
27-Oct-11 Added a bit of mustache-twirling intrigue in College Delta.
21-Oct-11 The life and times of Belle Sarcastic.
13-Sep-11 A much-needed refreshing of the list of “Current NASA Programs launched by Delta rockets” on the Delta Links page.