In Photos: Last Delta II Rocket Soars With NASA's ICESat-2

Liftoff for NASA's ICESat-2!

Bill Ingalls/NASA

On Sept. 15, 2018, the final Delta II rocket launched into space carrying NASA's ICESat-2 satellite, ending an era for the workhorse rocket. See photos from the historic last launch of the famed United Launch Alliance booster here. This Image: The last United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket launches NASA’s Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California on Sept. 15, 2018. ICESat-2 will use a laser instrument to measure the changing height of Earth's ice.

One Last Launch

Jeff Spotts/United Launch Alliance

The Delta II rocket carrying NASA's ICESat-2 mission lifted off at 6:02 a.m. local time (9:02 a.m. EDT, 1302 GMT) from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base. Read our full launch story and video wrap up!

Farewell, ICESat-2

NASA TV

NASA's IceSat-2 satellite (top) separates from its Delta II rocket upper stage after a successful launch into orbit on Sept. 15, 2018.

Taking Flight

Jeff Spotts/United Launch Alliance

The United Launch Alliance's final Delta II rocket lifts off in a spectacular predawn launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Sept. 15, 2018. Liftoff occurred at 6:02 a.m. PDT (9:02 a.m. EDT/1302 GMT).

A Brilliant Liftoff

NASA TV

A United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket, the last ever to fly, launches NASA's ICESat-2 satellite from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California before dawn on Sept. 15, 2018. ICESat-2 will measure Earth's ice sheets from space with a laser.

Delta II's Final Flight

NASA TV

Shortly after launch, the rocket jettisoned four engines that had helped it leave Earth.

1st Stage Engine Cutoff

NASA TV

A little over four minutes after lift-off, the main engine of the Delta II rocket cut off in preparation for the rocket's second stage to continue on alone.

Ready to Fly

NASA TV

A view of the final Delta II rocket on the launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, topped by NASA's ICESat-2 mission about 30 minutes before the rocket's scheduled launch.

A Number for Space

NASA TV

Today's Delta II rocket marks the 381st launch by a Delta family rocket. To commemorate the final Delta II launch, ULA had about 800 current and former program staffers sign the stars that decorated the rocket.

At the Pad

United Launch Alliance/Walter Scriptunas II

A United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket, the last ever to launch, is prepared to launch NASA's ICESat-2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California ahead of its Sept. 15, 2018 liftoff.

Meet ICESat-2

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

An artist's depiction of the ICESat-2 spacecraft in action, measuring the thickness of Earth's ice sheets.

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