Delta IV Heavy Retiring and the Vulcan Replacement

ULA, a 50-50 joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin, has four Delta 4-Heavy rockets left to launch in the next few years. All will launch spy satellites for the National Reconnaissance Office.

The retirement was announced in 2019 and the last Delta IV Heavy should fly in 2023. ULA’s Delta 4 Heavy’s price has reportedly fallen below $300 million.

United Launch Alliance’s first full-scale Vulcan booster with two Blue Origin BE-4 engines arrived at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in February, 2021.

The Vulcan Centaur rocket is ULA’s next-generation launch vehicle, and is destined to replace the company’s existing fleet of Atlas and Delta rockets. The new rocket can fly with zero, two, four, or six solid rocket boosters.

The pitch in 2015 for the Vulcan was to get launch costs below $100 million per launch. This is far behind SpaceX.

The development of Blue Origin’s BE-4 engines has been driving the schedule for the first Vulcan launch. Each BE-4 engine can generate about 550,000 pounds of thrust.

The Vulcan will have the first new ULA rocket in over a decade and it will have the first Blue Origin engines to fly anything to orbit. Blue Origin has launched suborbital.

Blue Origin now hopes to launch a partially reusable New Glenn rocket in late 2022. The New Glenn will have 50 tons of payload to low earth orbit and would be comparable to the SpaceX Falcon Heavy.

SOURCES Space flight now, Blue Origin, Wikipedia
Written By Brian Wang,