Favorite Rocket



Undoubtedly, the Delta-IV Heavy is my favorite launch vehicle. ULA just popped an NRO payload into orbit the other day, via Aviation Week

 United Launch Alliance (ULA) racked up its fourth successful flight of a Delta IV Heavy, which blasted off Nov. 21 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., carrying a classified satellite for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office.

The launch occurred at 5:58 p.m. EST. ULA halted commentary about seven minutes after liftoff. At the time, the vehicle was performing as expected.

The launch had been delayed from Nov. 18 to replace ground support equipment pyrotechnic ordnance lines, and on Nov. 19 due to anomalous temperature data signatures in the common core strap-on boosters. The problem was traced to faulty temperature sensors, which were replaced.

The Delta IV Heavy, currently the nation’s most powerful unmanned rocket, debuted on a demonstration flight six years ago, then flew two operational missions in November 2007 and January 2009.

The rocket, which was built by ULA in Decatur, Ala., is comprised of a common booster core with two strap-on common booster cores. Each is powered by an RS-68 cryogenic engine and an RL10B-2 cryogenic engine powers the second stage. Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne builds both engines.

The payload was encased by a 5-meter diameter aluminum, tri-sector payload fairing.

The launch was the eighth and final flight this year for ULA. The company’s next launch is with another Delta IV Heavy for the NRO, scheduled for Jan. 11, 2011, from Space Launch Complex 6 at Vandenberg AFB, Calif.

 Love this video edit by the USAF 45th Space Wing