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article imageULA's veteran Delta IV Medium rocket has made its final voyage

By Karen Graham     Aug 22, 2019 in Technology
After 17 years and 29 missions, the final United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket to ever fly in a medium configuration soared over the Space Coast one last time Thursday morning, delivering a powerful GPS satellite to orbit.
The Delta IV single-core rocket lifted off on Thursday morning (Aug. 22) at 9:06 a.m. EDT (1306 GMT) on the vehicle's 29th mission. - leaping off the pad at Space Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and delivering its final payload, a GPS III satellite for the U.S. Air Force.
After a few minor technical issues, the launch went off without a hitch, soaring into the hazy morning sky as hundreds of onlookers watched, hoping to catch a final glimpse of the Delta 4-Medium. Company President Tory Bruno tweeted that the liftoff was "hot, straight and normal."
The payload is the second in a series of next-generation GPS satellites and is nicknamed Magellan after the 16th-century Portuguese explorer. The satellite was built by Lockheed Martin and is officially called GPS III.
A Delta 4 rocket lifts off from from Cape Canaveral  Florida  on December 5  2014 carrying NASA&apos...
A Delta 4 rocket lifts off from from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on December 5, 2014 carrying NASA's Orion spacecraft on its first test flight
Bruce Weaver, AFP
Today's historic event is also the last time a single-stick Delta IV will soar aloft and the last time an RS-68 engine - used to power the rocket - will fly alongside two solid rocket motors. Looking to the future, the single-stick's big brother, the Delta IV Heavy - made up of three single-stick cores strapped together - will be used to launch payloads into orbit.
ULA eventually will be phasing out both the Atlas and Delta launch vehicles, relying on the company's new Vulcan rocket to carry cargo (and humans) to space. That next-generation rocket is expected to come online sometime in 2021.
The Vulcan Centaur rocket has not flown yet but is a next-generation lifter developed in large part for the United States Air Force's National Security Space Launch (NSSL) program. Vulcan Centaur is a new class of space launch vehicle with the performance of a heavy launch vehicle in just a single core.
ULA's Delta IV rocket launched NASA’s Orion capsule on its first orbital test flight and sent the Parker Solar Probe on its journey to become the fastest robot in history while surfing through the sun's atmosphere.
A United Launch Alliance Delta IV-Heavy rocket carrying a National Reconnaissance Office payload lau...
A United Launch Alliance Delta IV-Heavy rocket carrying a National Reconnaissance Office payload launches Aug. 28, 2013, from Space Launch Complex-6 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.
U.S. Air Force/Joe Davila
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