Delta IV Heavy Powers to Orbit with Upgraded Engines

The first Delta IV Heavy powered by RS-68A engines lifts off from Cape Canaveral AFS on Friday, June 29.

America’s most powerful launch vehicle, the triple-barreled Delta IV Heavy, blasted off from Cape Canaveral Friday morning, June 29, carrying a classified payload.

The mammoth rocket was the first Delta IV Heavy to launch with upgraded RS-68A engines that increased the thrust of each of the three common booster cores from approximately 758,000 pounds to 797,000 pounds.

Reporting from Cape Canaveral on Friday, Vice President of Space Launch Operations Ray Johnson said he was “very pleased to announce the successful launch of Delta IV Heavy.”

He noted that “it was a challenging countdown with several issues being worked during the count; however, we were able to lift off Space Launch Complex 37 about three hours into the window at 9:15 Eastern time.”

He said the six-hour mission to GEO orbit ended with a successful spacecraft separation.

“Our quick-look data review indicates that the mission was very clean without any significant issues,” Johnson said. “I want to congratulate the entire Delta team for completing this very challenging mission.”