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

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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.


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  • not to be a butt, But the Delta IV Heavy has one more upgrade that may have not launched as far as “we” know. after watching a launch of this said rocket i will say to you , it is a Very powerful vehicle and is capable of delivering payloads to the Moon or beyond., and has. get real with your reporting. otherwise, i still love you.

  • Joe2

    Actually, the Delta IV is a Boeing Booster, while the Atlas V is Lockheed.

    Both are, of course, under the United launch Alliance banner.

  • You are absolutely correct. Thank you for correcting my error. I let the fact that Lockheed, which is building Orion, has also been pushing to do this launch, to cloud my brain.

  • Kelly Starks

    >. 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?..

    So lockheed and every other credable launcher developer design group isn’t disolved in the next few years.

  • I must reluctantly agree with you. Private space development isn’t geared toward heavy lift, because there isn’t much of a market for it in the private sector. If SPS projects and proposed orbital hotels take off, that may change. Until then, the various design houses are going to need government subsidies.

  • Kelly Starks

    Right now theres virtually no market for lift at all – virtually the entire industry is about to shut down, and its not like you could start it up again in less then a decade. So if it goes down now, the US won;t be launching anything for a long time.

  • libs0n

    Completely False.

    Orbital Sciences
    United Launch Alliance

    All of which have launch vehicles which will operate for the foreseable future serving defense, commercial, space science, and ISS launch needs, and who have recent LV development experience, with the latter two companies having upgrade proposals for heavier lift versions of three vehicles, the D4, the A5, and the F9.

    There’s more to the world than the space shuttle, Starks.

  • libs0n

    Not only the Delta 4, but heavier lift vehicles can be derived from the Atlas 5 and Falcon 9 launch families as well, so NASA would have three vehicles to choose from if it needed to launch a larger payload than what can currently be launched. Upgrading one of those vehicles has the added benefit that such work can be delayed until such time as it is more timely needed, thus freeing budget away from rocket development toward other objectives like exploration systems development.

  • Kelly Starks

    First I was talking about retaining the industry, not a couple products. If theres nothing being developed – the development teamsd get laid off, the organizations closed down. We lost serveral huge areospace firms that way – the small remaining space industries are in worse shape then they were. So trying to convince stockholders (pension fund folks mainly) that its worth keeping alive, could be impossible.

    ULA has been talking about discontinuing product lines, or laying off the development folks. Their supliers (pretty much the bulk of the suply chain) is closing down, or on the edge of.

    SpaceX has SEREIOUS quality problems, and management thats getting defensive – and they are highly dependant on gov contracts. The wave of commercial busness he expected, didn’t happen. SpaceX isn’t doing badly, but noyt as good as Musk was expecting – and a couple accidents with customer payloads could dry that up. Musk cut a lot of corners, adn spending 1/40th what your commercial competitors do to make the same product, when your a start up with no experence and no trying to contact experence — both real bad signs for a startup.

    Orbitals never goten past kindof ok, but not primnetime material.

    As for “There’s more to the world than the space shuttle”, space shutles was almost 3/4th of all maned flights, and half all cargo tonage, lifted in human history. Droping that out, and all the missions it was to support, means a real dry market for the industry that built the stuff it carried, or was repaired with.

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