Image credit & copyright: United Launch Alliance (ULA) of the launch of NROL 65 from Vandenberg AFB, CA.
Thursday, June 9, 2016 at 13:30 EDT (17:30 UTC) the United Launch Alliance (ULA) will be launching the massive Delta IV Heavy, today’s most powerful rocket from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Space Launch Complex (SLC)-37, Florida. The mission, NROL-37 will be carrying the Orion 9; a classified payload for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). This will be the Delta IV Heavy’s 9th flight.
The United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Heavy built by Boeing is currently the world’s most powerful rocket in use. It’s a two stage heavy lift rocket that stands 235 ft. (70.0 m) high and 50 ft. (15.2 m) wide. It launches from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) Space Launch Complex-37B (SLC-37B) as well as California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB), Space Launch Complex-6 (SLC-6 or Slick-6) which was originally built to be the Space Shuttle’s west coast launch point. It can lift 28,620 lbs. (12,980 kg) into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) and 49,740 lbs. (22,560 kg) into Low Earth Orbit (LEO).
Payload Fairing (PLF): The spacecraft is protected inside the two-shell 16.8 ft. (5.1 m) diameter, 62 ft. (19 m) high payload fairing until the rocket reaches an altitude high enough where the spacecraft won’t be damaged by air resistance and heating created by the speed of the rocket from that air resistance.
Delta Cryogenic Second Stage (DCSS) (2nd or Upper Stage) = is a larger second stage than the rest of the Delta IV family. It’s 42.8 ft. (13 m) long and 16.7 ft. (5.1 m) in diameter and is powered by a single Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10B-2 (RL-10) engine that burns cryogenic liquid hydrogen (LH2) fuel with liquid oxygen (LOX) oxidizer that produces 24,750 lb. of thrust.
Strap-on Common Booster Cores (SCBC): Delta IV Heavy utilizes two strap-on Common Booster Cores instead of strap-on Solid Rocket Motors and that is just what it sounds like; two Common Booster Cores, each with a single RS-68A engine attached to the port and starboard sides of the central CBC. This gives the vehicle its ultra-wide, three barreled posture that takes your breath away in awe anytime you see it whether its lying horizontal in the hangar, standing tall on the pad or thundering off into space.
These SCBC’s burn at 100% for the initial lift phase then they cut back to 57% power for cutoff and separation which comes around the T+242 second mark.
Common Booster Core (CBC) (1st Stage) = 133.9 ft. (40.8 m) long and 16.7 ft. (5.1 m) in diameter and is powered by a single Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-68A engine system. The engine burns cryogenic liquid hydrogen (LH2) fuel with a liquid oxygen (LOX) oxidizer and produces 663,000 lb. of thrust at sea level.
For use with the Delta IV Heavy, the CBC will, at T+50 seconds throttle down to around 57% power to save fuel. After separation of the SCBC’s the CBC will then fire back up to 100% power and use that remaining fuel to further propel the vehicle onward for another 88 seconds. Final shutdown and separation of the main CBC comes at T+328 seconds.
Stream NROL-37 LIVE:
United Launch Alliance (ULA):
ULA homepage: http://www.ulalaunch.com/
Twitter for ULA CEO Tory Bruno: https://twitter.com/torybruno
United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Heavy:
ULA Boeing Delta Rocket family: http://www.ulalaunch.com/products_deltaiv.aspx
ULA Boeing Delta IV Heavy cutaway: http://www.ulalaunch.com/uploads/docs/DeltaIVHeavy_Cutaway.pdf
Boeing Delta IV page: http://www.boeing.com/boeing/defense-space/space/delta/delta4/delta4.page
Spaceflight 101 Delta IV Heavy information: http://www.spaceflight101.com/delta-iv-heavy.html
Main Site: http://www.rocket.com/
National Reconnaissance Office (NRO):
Main Site: http://www.nro.gov/
Patrick AFB: 45th Space Wing, Cape Canaveral, FL:
Main Site: http://www.patrick.af.mil/
Vandenberg AFB, 30th Space Wing, CA:
Vandenberg AFB : http://www.vandenberg.af.mil/
Air Force Space Command:
Main Site: http://www.afspc.af.mil/
Los Angeles Air Force Base, Space and Missile Systems Center:
Main Site: http://www.losangeles.af.mil/
Peterson AFB (21st Space Wing):
Main Site: http://www.peterson.af.mil/