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Kennedy Space Center adds ULA Delta II to Rocket Garden exhibit

by Susan and Simon Veness

For the first time in 21 years, the Rocket Garden at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex has a new addition, with the March 23 debut of a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket, towering 128 feet skyward.

delta ii
Photo via United Launch Alliance on Facebook

The Delta II earned notoriety over the course of 155 launches, with significant missions including the launch of NASA’s Spirit and Opportunity rovers, the Phoenix Mars Lander, the ICESat-2 satellite, and various operational GPS and commercial satellite missions. It also fostered the Global Positioning System (GPS) and helped enable the exploration of Mars.

United Launch Alliance, the nation’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider, awarded Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex the honor of displaying its “venerable industry workhorse” — the Delta II rocket — in the center’s outdoor Rocket Garden exhibit. On March 23, the final vehicle in ULA’s Delta family became the first modern-era rocket to join the exhibit’s collection.

delta ii
Photo via United Launch Alliance on Facebook

Tory Bruno, ULA’s president and CEO says, “While ICESat-2 marked its final mission in 2018, Delta II’s legacy will live on in the technology and exploration it delivered for nearly 30 years, including GPS and the Spirit and Opportunity Mars rovers. We are excited to honor the legacy of the Delta II and pay tribute to the people who designed, built, and launched it for nearly three decades.”

The Delta II earned notoriety over the course of 155 launches, with significant missions including the launch of NASA’s Spirit and Opportunity rovers, the Phoenix Mars Lander, the ICESat-2 satellite, and various operational GPS and commercial satellite missions. It also fostered the Global Positioning System (GPS) and helped enable the exploration of Mars.

Therrin Protze, chief operating officer, shares his enthusiasm for the new addition: “The Rocket Garden is our most photographed attraction here at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, and when you visit you know why. The rockets here represent so much more than just engineering feats of technology. They are a permanent tribute to the scientists and engineers who turned dreams of spaceflight into reality. The Rocket Garden is a testament to the innovation of our space program, and the addition of ULS’s Delta II represents our recent accomplishments in space exploration. It’s something you cannot see anywhere else.”

delta ii
Photo via Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Other rockets in the exhibit include the Delta-Thor, Juno 1 and Juno II, Mercury Redstone, Mercury-Atlas and Atlas-Agena, Gemini-Titan II, and Saturn 1B launch vehicles. Access to the Rocket Garden is included with park admission.

For more information visit the websites for Kennedy Space Center and United Launch Alliance.

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