Delta B at Complex 17, pad B
Delta B at Complex 17, pad B Zoom

It is December 21st of 1963, and final preparations are being made to launch the TIROS-8 mission: a Delta B carrying a TIROS H satellite. TIROS (Television Infrared Observation Satellite) was a meteorological satellite manufactured by RCA that carried low-resulution television and infrared cameras for weather observations. This particular TIROS was placed in a polar orbit, and returned over 100,000 cloud cover images while it was on station.

Note that Delta is sometimes referred to as Thor Delta. The Thor Delta was a modification of the Thor Agena vehicle, and its derivatives were usually simply called "Delta" (as in "Delta A", "Delta B", etc.).

Delta B specifications and performance
Length 87.9 ft. Diameter 8 ft.
Stage Stage name Engine(s) Propellant(s) Thrust
1 Thor DM-21 1 Rocketdyne MB-3-1 LOX, RJ-1 172,000 lbs.
2 Delta D 1 Aerojet AJ10-118D IRFNA, UDMH 7,575 lbs.
3 Altair 1 1 Thiokol X-248 Solid 2,760 lbs.

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Photo courtesy of U.S. Air Force (from Jonathan's Space Home Page).
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