On the morning of August 22nd, the United Launch Alliance was set to fly the Delta IV Medium rocket on its very last mission.
It is a single-core vehicle that has been making trips to space since 2002.
This final flight is the 29th mission of the Delta IV Medium.
The vehicle is now retired as ULA works to combine its technology and create a new invention of rockets.
The Delta Family
The Delta IV is the last remaining successor of the Delta family of rockets, a long line of vehicles that were born in the era of modern space.
The initial Deltas that were built by the Douglas Aircraft Company were originated from an old Air Force ballistic missile called Thor.
The first effective Delta launch occurred in 1960, which launched a communications satellite into the orbit for NASA.
Since then, these vehicles have been customized and updated dozens of times, resulting in the Delta IV.
ULA is a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin, which has been flying two main versions of the rocket for the last two decades
Delta IV Medium’s Last Flight
The Delta IV Medium has had a faultless track record. It has been trusted with launching many national security payloads for the military as well as important satellites for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
So it is expected that the rocket’s last mission would be to launch a satellite called GPS III Magellan for the US Air Force.
The satellite will unite with the first GPS III satellite that is already in space, which was launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in December.
After this flight, the Delta IV Medium will hang its hat as ULA concentrates on getting ready to launch its next rocket, the Vulcan Centaur.
The Vulcan Centaur
This new vehicle is created on the abilities of both the Delta IV and ULA’s premier rocket, the Atlas V.
Vulcan has already had a few payloads lined up to launch, but it is not scheduled to fly until 2020.
Meanwhile, ULA will resume flying the Atlas V and the larger Delta IV Heavy to retain access to space.
The Delta IV Medium’s final flight was scheduled for take-off within a 27-minute launch window, which between 9AM ET and 9:27 AM ET on August 22nd.
The vehicle flew out of ULA’s launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
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