Liftoff took place from Space Launch Complex 17A at Cape Canaveral Air Station, Florida. One minute after liftoff, the first six solid rocket strap-ons were discarded. The other three burned out strap-on boosters were jettisoned, while the first stage continued to burn. The remaining strap-on boosters are then ignited, and then jettisioned. About 4 minutes, 23 seconds after liftoff, the first stage stopped firing and were discarded eight seconds later. About six seconds later, the second stage engine ignited. The fairing or nose-cone enclosure of the launch vehicle was discarded roughly 5 minutes after liftoff. The second-stage burn ended about 10 minutes after liftoff.
At this point, the vehicle was in a low-Earth orbit at an altitude of 195 kilometers. (120 miles). The vehicle coasted for several minutes. Once the vehicle was at the correct point in its orbit, the second stage was restarted for a brief second burn.
Small rockets were then fired to spin up the third stage on a turntable attached to the second stage. The third stage separated and ignited its motor, sending the spacecraft out of Earth orbit. After the final burn, the spinning upper stage and the attached spacecraft were despun so that the spacecraft could be separated and acquire its proper cruise orientation. This was accomplished by a set of weights that were reeled out from the side of the spinning vehicle on flexible lines, much as spinning ice skaters slow themselves by extending their arms. Approximately 30 minutes after liftoff, the spacecraft separated from the Delta's third stage. The solar array was then deployed, and the Deep Space Network acquired the signal from the spacecraft.