A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Heavy rocket carrying NASA’s Parker Solar Probe spacecraft lifted off from Space Launch Complex-37 on August 12 at 3:31 a.m. EDT. NASA selected ULA’s Delta IV Heavy for its unique ability to deliver the necessary energy to begin the Parker Solar Probe’s journey to the sun.
The Delta IV Heavy is the nation’s proven heavy lift launch vehicle, delivering high-priority missions for NASA, the U.S. Air Force and the National Reconnaissance Office. With its advanced cryogenic upper stage, Delta IV Heavy can deliver more than 14,000 pounds/6,350 kg directly to geosynchronous orbit, as well as a wide variety of complex interplanetary trajectories.
«The unique requirements of this mission made the Delta IV Heavy the perfect launch vehicle to deliver Parker Solar Probe into orbit with the highest precision», said Gary Wentz, ULA vice president of Government and Commercial Programs. «Congratulations to our team and mission partners, we are proud to launch this exceptional spacecraft that will provide invaluable scientific information benefiting all of humankind».
This mission was launched aboard a Delta IV Heavy, which is comprised of three common core boosters each powered by an Aerojet Rocketdyne (AR) RS-68A liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engines producing a combined total of more than 2.1 million pounds/952,544 kg of thrust. The second stage was powered by an AR RL10B-2 liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engine. Due to the extremely high energy required for this mission, the Delta IV Heavy’s capability was enhanced by a powerful third stage provided by Northrop Grumman.
This was the 37th launch of the Delta IV rocket, and the 10th in the Heavy configuration. It also marks ULA’s sixth launch in 2018 and the 129th successful launch since the company was formed in December 2006.
ULA’s next launch is the ICESat-2 mission for NASA on what will be the final Delta II mission. The launch is scheduled for September 15 at Space Launch Complex-2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.
With more than a century of combined heritage, United Launch Alliance is the nation’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 125 satellites to orbit that aid meteorologists in tracking severe weather, unlock the mysteries of our solar system, provide critical capabilities for troops in the field and enable personal device-based GPS navigation.