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Delta IV Medium ends 17-Year run with 100% success

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The 29th and final Delta IV Medium rocket lofts the second GPS III satellite into space for the United States Air Force. Photo Credit: Scott Schilke / SpaceFlight Insider

The 29th and closing Delta IV Medium rocket lofts the second GPS III satellite tv for pc into area for the USA Air Pressure. Picture Credit score: Scott Schilke / SpaceFlight Insider

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Earlier this week, United Launch Alliance’s Delta IV Medium rocket, which made its debut flight in 2002, completed its 17-year, 100% success file by propelling a GPS III satellite tv for pc into medium Earth orbit. This was a milestone years within the making as the corporate continues to develop its less-expensive, more-capable Vulcan rocket.

Liftoff passed off at 9:06 a.m. EDT (13:06 GMT) Aug. 22, 2019, from Area Launch Advanced 37B at Cape Canaveral Air Pressure Station.

Photo Credit: Graham Smith / SpaceFlight Insider

Picture Credit score: Graham Smith / SpaceFlight Insider

This was the 29th flight for the Delta IV Medium, all however 5 of which have flown out of Florida. The rest have been from Vandenberg Air Pressure Base in California.

The mission was named Magellan after the 16th century Portuguese explorer who was the primary to circumnavigate the Earth in a single voyage.

This closing flight didn’t come as a shock. In March 2015, ULA CEO Tory Bruno introduced the corporate can be retiring the Delta IV Medium configurations in 2018 or 2019, whereas the triple-core Delta IV Heavy configuration would stay in service past that time-frame.

Actually, solely 5 extra Delta IV Heavy rockets are deliberate via 2023.

The Delta IV and Atlas V rockets are being changed by the extra environment friendly and technologically superior Vulcan rocket, which in accordance with newest experiences is anticipated to fly its maiden voyage in 2021.

This Delta IV Medium+ (four,2) for this flight featured one hydrogen-fueled Widespread Booster Core (“single-stick”), two strong rocket motors and a four-meter-wide Delta Cryogenic Second Stage.

The twin solid rocket motors and single RS-68A engine fire to propel the Delta IV Medium rocket with its GPS III payload off the pad and into space. Photo Credit: Scott Schilke

The dual strong rocket motors and single RS-68A engine hearth to propel the Delta IV Medium rocket with its GPS III payload off the pad and into area. Picture Credit score: Scott Schilke

The GPS III satellite tv for pc payload was protected throughout atmospheric ascent by a composite payload fairing.

The mission’s payload was the second of the third-generation GPS satellites for the USA Air Pressure. The primary was launched from Cape Canaveral by SpaceX out of Area Launch Advanced 40 in December 2018 on a mission referred to as Vespucci (honoring the Florentine explorer Amerigo Vespucci, after whom the Americas are named).

Photo Credit: Scott Schilke

Picture Credit score: Scott Schilke

GPS is a expertise most individuals could take as a right, accessing correct location data from dwelling computer systems, vehicles, and even good telephones and not using a second thought.

This functionality is predicated on a single constellation of 31 satellites owned by the USA authorities and operated by the U.S. Air Pressure.

These satellites are in medium Earth orbit about 12,500 miles (20,100 kilometers) above the Earth in six orbital planes at completely different inclinations. Every spacecraft makes two orbits per day.

For comparability, the Worldwide Area Station is barely about 250 miles (400 kilometers) in altitude and circles Earth roughly 16 instances every day.

First launched in 1978 and totally operational in 1995, the system permits each level on Earth to be seen by no less than four satellites, allowing correct location triangulation.

The U.S. Air Pressure has periodically up to date these satellites, and a complete of 10 of the third-generation spacecraft have been licensed to be constructed by Lockheed Martin.

The GPS III satellite being encapsulated before launch. Photo Credit: ULA

The GPS III SV02 satellite tv for pc being encapsulated earlier than launch. Picture Credit score: ULA

The third of those automobiles is scheduled to be launched by a SpaceX Falcon 9 in January 2020 on a mission named after one other explorer — Christopher Columbus.

The rest of the 10 GPS III satellites are anticipated to be launched by round 2023.

The GPS III design features better accuracy (in some conditions as correct as 18-24 inches), anti-jamming safety, greater energy output, and linkage functionality to European and Japanese satellite tv for pc navigation techniques. Constructed on Lockheed Martin’s A2100 spacecraft bus, the eight,600-pound (three,900-kilogram) automobile is designed to final no less than 15 years.

Two Northrop Grumman-built solid rocket motors were strapped to the side of the Delta IV Medium rocket. Photo Credit: Michael Howard / SpaceFlight Insider

Two Northrop Grumman-built strong rocket motors have been strapped to the aspect of the Delta IV Medium rocket. Picture Credit score: Michael Howard / SpaceFlight Insider

Amongst these readily available for the launch was Katie Qian, supervisor of Technique and Enterprise Growth at Northrop Grumman. She mentioned the corporate has labored with ULA on a lot of its launch automobiles together with the Delta program, offering over a dozen parts starting from composite constructions, engine nozzles and GEM-60 strong rocket motors.

“We’re very happy with the contribution that now we have made on the Delta IV Medium launch automobile,” Qian mentioned. “That is the final flight and now we have constructed over 86 Gem-60 motors and for over 26 missions for the Delta IV Medium … with 100% mission success.”

Qian mentioned Northrop Grumman’s partnership with ULA will proceed as the corporate builds GEM-63 and GEM-63XL strong rocket motors for the Atlas V and the long run Vulcan rocket.

“We’re in improvement with the GEM-63 proper now and anticipate to fly it subsequent yr,” Qian mentioned. “Northrop Grumman is creating the GEM-63 XL boosters for the Vulcan. They’re slightly bigger and can present much more thrust.”

Qian mentioned Northrop Grumman has integrated “plenty of operational efficiencies” to decrease the price of the strong rocket motor and the general value of the launch automobile.

Video courtesy of SpaceFlight Insider



Jim Siegel comes from a enterprise and engineering background, in addition to a journalistic one. He has a level in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue College, an MBA from the College of Michigan, and govt certificates from Northwestern College and Duke College. Jim bought thinking about journalism in 2002. As a resident of Celebration, FL, Disney’s deliberate neighborhood exterior Orlando, he has written and carried out pictures extensively for the Celebration Impartial and the Celebration Information. He has additionally written for the Detroit Information, the Indianapolis Star, and the Northwest Indiana Instances (the place he began his newspaper profession at age 11 as a paperboy).

Jim is well-known round Celebration for his pictures, and he just lately revealed a e-book of his favourite Celebration scenes. Jim has coated the Kennedy Area Middle since 2006. His expertise has introduced a singular perspective to his protection of first, the area shuttle Program, and now the post-shuttle period, as US area exploration accelerates its dependence on industrial firms. He makes a speciality of changing the customarily extremely technical points of the area program into contexts that may be understood and appreciated by common People.

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