Delta IV Launch Vehicle

Delta IV rocket awaits liftoff
Ready for launch, a Delta IV rocket awaits liftoff on March 4 on a flight to lift a weather satellite (GOES-P) into orbit. (Photo Credit: NASA)

NASA calls on the Delta IV to launch heavy weather satellites into an orbit 22,300 miles above Earth. The rocket uses an engine called the RS-68 that is derived from the Space Shuttle Main Engine. It produces 758,000 pounds of thrust. Solid-fueled boosters can also be attached to the side for extra power.

Mass: 550,000 - 1,616,800 pounds

Height: 206 - 235 feet

Diameter: 16.4 feet

Delta IV is an active expendable launch system in the Delta rocket family. Delta IV uses rockets designed by Boeing's Integrated Defense Systems division and built in the United Launch Alliance (ULA) facility in Decatur, Alabama. Final assembly is completed at the launch site by ULA. The rockets were designed to launch payloads into orbit for the United States Air Force Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program and commercial satellite business. Delta IV rockets are available in five versions, which are tailored to suit specific payload size and weight ranges. Delta IV was primarily designed to satisfy the needs of the U.S. military.

Delta IV rocket
The mobile service tower on Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station has been removed from around a Delta IV rocket as preparations continue to launch the GOES-O satellite. (Photo Credit: NASA/Jack Pfaller)

The rockets are assembled at the Horizontal Integration Facility for launches from SLC-37B at Cape Canaveral, and in a similar facility for launches from SLC-6 at Vandenberg AFB. Delta IV launch vehicles can accommodate single or multiple payloads on the same mission. The rockets can launch payloads to polar orbits, sun-synchronous orbits, geosynchronous and geosynchronous transfer orbits (GTO), and low Earth orbit (LEO).

Note - LSP does not currently use the Delta IV other than in advisory role mission efforts.

Delta IV Fun Facts:

  • The Delta IV launch vehicle is 235 feet tall = taller than the Space Shuttle or Cinderella's castle at Disney's Magic Kingdom
  • The Delta IV boosters core engines each put out 3 million horsepower = the power of 3 to 4 Hoover Dams
  • The Delta IV first stage is about the size of a wide-body 767 jumbo jet
  • The Delta IV can launch payloads weighing up to 50,000 pounds = the weight of 3 adult African elephants
  • The Delta IV's combined horespower is 17 million = a string of cars 300 miles long
  • The Delta IV is the newest and largest of the Delta family of launch vehicles
  • The Delta IV uses a Boeing/Rocketdyne liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen engine
  • The Delta IV is a medium to heavy lift vehicle built by United Launch Alliance

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