Tag Archives: Delta 4 Heavy

ULA chief says Congress deal clears path to Vulcan

The competition heats up: The CEO of ULA, Tory Bruno, said in an industry publication interview today that the Congressional deal that allows the company to buy 22 more Russian engines for its Atlas 5 clears the way for their eventual transition to the Vulcan rocket and an end to dependence on those Russian engines.

The article is worth a careful read, as it also provides a very detailed look at ULA’s future plans for its Atlas 5, Delta 4 Heavy, and Vulcan rockets. This paragraph was especially interesting:

The next major milestone is determining what engine will replace the [Russian] RD-180. Washington-based Blue Origin is developing the BE-4, a privately funded Liquid Oxygen (Lox) and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) engine capable of 550,000 pounds of thrust (lbf); and California-based Aerojet Rocketdyne is creating the AR1, a government-supported Lox/Kerosene (RP-1) engine capable of 500,000lbf. Either replacement will require two engines to match the power of the RD-180. Blue Origin claims its engine, already four years into development, will be flight qualified by 2017, while Aerojet Rocketdyne, having started its development later, says the AR1 will be flight qualified by 2019. Bruno said ULA would make its decision soon.

“Sometime close to the end of the year we are going to down-select, and then move into our Critical Design Review (CDR) and start manufacturing the rocket,” he said.

I strongly suspect they want to go with Blue Origin’s engine, because it is more powerful, farther along in development, and almost certainly less expensive. The question will be whether pressure from Congress, which favors Aerojet Rocketdyne’s engine for pork barrel reasons (Congress is funding it), will force ULA to go with it instead.

Successful ULA Delta 4 Heavy launch today

The competition heats up: ULA today successfully launched a U.S. National Reconnaissance Office spy satellite, using what is presently the world’s most powerful rocket, the Delta 4 Heavy.

In many ways, this rocket’s launch, which you can see in the video embedded below the fold, gives a rough idea of what a Falcon Heavy launch will look like, since the rockets have somewhat similar configurations.
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ULA sets dates for next Atlas 5 and Delta 4 Heavy launches

The competition heats up: ULA has finally scheduled its next Atlas 5 launch for June 24 after completing its investigation of the premature engine shutdown during the previous launch.

The link also provides information on the next Delta 4 Heavy launch, set for June 4.

Delta 4 Heavy moved to launchpad for Orion flight

In preparation for a December test flight of the first Orion capsule, the Delta 4 Heavy rocket has been positioned on the launchpad.

The unmanned Dec. 4 mission, known as Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1), is designed to test out Orion’s critical crew-safety systems, such as its thermal-protection gear. During the four-hour flight, the Orion capsule will fly 3,600 miles (5,800 kilometers) from Earth, then come speeding back into the planet’s atmosphere at about 20,000 mph (32,190 km/h) before splashing down softly in the Pacific Ocean, NASA officials said.

Forgive me if I remain decidedly unexcited. I still believe SLS to be an enormous waste of resources that would be better spent onother things.

Posted on the road south of Phoenix.

The most powerful rocket presently in service, the Delta-4 Heavy, successfully launched a U.S. surveillance satellite this morning.

The most powerful rocket presently in service, the Delta-4 Heavy, successfully launched a U.S. surveillance satellite this morning.

The booster features three core rocket boosters and is topped with a second stage to place payloads into orbit. It is 235 feet tall (72 meters) and can carry payloads of up to 24 tons into low-Earth orbit and 11 tons to geosynchronous orbits.

SpaceX’s proposed Falcon Heavy would launch about 50 tons into low Earth orbit, making it twice as powerful, should it be built. The next obvious question, which I can’t answer at the moment, is how do these two rockets compare in terms of cost?

NASA picks the Delta 4 Heavy to launch Orion into orbit on its first test flight

NASA has chosen the Delta 4 Heavy rocket to launch the Orion capsule into orbit for its first test flight in 2014.

So, tell me again why NASA needs to spend $18 to $62 billion for a new rocket, when it already can hire Lockheed Martin to do the same thing? Though the Delta 4 Heavy can only get about 28 tons into low Earth orbit, and only about 10 tons into geosynchronous orbit — far less than the planned heavy-lift Space Launch System rocket — Boeing Lockheed has a variety of proposed upgrades to Delta 4 Heavy that could bring these numbers way up. Building these upgrades would surely be far cheaper than starting from scratch to build SLS.

Corrected above as per comments below.