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Watch ULA’s triple-booster Delta IV Heavy roar to space for the final time

April 9 LIVE Broadcast: Delta IV Heavy NROL-70

United Launch Alliance’s Delta IV Heavy rocket launched for the final time on Tuesday, bringing an end to six decades of service by the Delta family of rockets.

The Delta IV Heavy, which first flew in 2004, launched early afternoon from Space Launch Complex-37 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida, carrying an intelligence satellite to a geostationary orbit for the National Reconnaissance Office.

You can watch footage of the launch via the video player embedded at the top of this page. It shows a close-up of the rocket’s engines firing up and pushing the vehicle skyward with 2.1 million pounds of thrust.

“The Delta rocket played a pivotal role in the evolution of space flight since the 1960s,” Tory Bruno, ULA’s president and CEO, said in a release. “This final Delta mission signals ULA’s evolution to the new Vulcan rocket, providing even higher performance than our three-core Delta IV Heavy rocket in a single-core rocket to launch heavy-class missions for the nation. We will continue to deliver our superior reliability and unprecedented orbital precision for all our customers across the national security, civil, and commercial markets.”

NASA chief Bill Nelson posted a message on social media congratulating the ULA team and acknowledging the rocket’s role in launching a number of NASA missions to space. “Congrats to ULA on the final Delta IV Heavy launch. For over six decades, the heavy lifter has been instrumental in launching key missions for NASA such as the Parker Solar Probe and EFT-1,” Nelson wrote in his message.

As Bruno mentioned, with the Delta rockets now retired, ULA will deploy its Vulcan Centaur rocket for future missions. The Vulcan took its maiden flight from the Kennedy Space Center in January, carrying Astrobotic Technology’s lunar-bound Peregrine lander to space. While the Vulcan’s launch was flawless, Astrobotic’s mission ultimately failed after Peregrine suffered a propellant leak early on in its flight.

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