The Delta IV Heavy rocket, boosted by the new RS-68A rocket engine, had its successful maiden flight on Friday, June 29 at 9:15 EST, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
The launch of Delta IV – NROL 15 (Credits: NASA).
The launch of the world’s most powerful hydrogen and liquid oxygen fueled rocket engine was rescheduled from Thursday to give Tropical Storm Debby time to clear the launch site, and on Friday there were three more hours of delay due to stuck fuel valves.
“It was a great day. It was a thrill to see it get off,” said Steve Bouley, vice president of Launch Vehicle and Hypersonic Systems, for PWR.
The mission was to send NROL-15 into orbit, a classified National Reconnaissance Office satellite. The Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne (PWR) RS-68A adds 39,000 pounds of thrust to the first-gen RS-68 for 702,000 total pounds of thrust, 284,000 more than the space shuttle’s main engine, but also 20 percent cheaper, since it has 80 percent fewer parts. PWR aspires to make the RS-68A the new standard for the Delta IV Heavy.
This launch could turn out to be a milestone of future space exploration power. “Liquid hydrogen and ...