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The final Delta IV goes up on the last mission




KOPAVA KAPA, Flag. – The United Launch Alliance launches its Delta IV Medium missile on Thursday morning on its 15th and final mission.

After nearly 17 years in service, Delta IV rose once more into the mostly clear sky, carrying the second Global Positioning System III satellite for the US Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center.

The Delta IV burst from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station 37 at six o'clock in the launch window at 9:00.

At Jetty Park in Cape Canaveral, locals are joined by spectators who have visited from all over the world for the latest rumble of a "single-use" Delta IV rocket.

Alex Martinez, from the United Kingdom, stated that rocket launches were what made the US great and said the experience was among his favorite memories.

"After the birth of my children, it's probably up," Martinez said. "It was one of the best things I've seen."

The Delta IV Medium will be replaced by the next-generation ULA rocket, the Centaur Volcano, which is still under development. ULA CEO Tori Bruno said the company's new rocket is on track for its first launch in 2021.

Brevard County resident Pietro Skuito is looking forward to the next generation of rockets.

"That was the last start, now maybe there will be new generations and I hope it will be better," Scuitos helps.

Here are five things to know about the Delta IV and its final launch:

What is the last mission
of a GPS named Magellan III in honor of Ferdinand Magellan, the first investigator to lead an expedition on of the world. The spacecraft, built by Lockheed Martin, will join a constellation of 31 satellites, providing powerful navigation, timing and positioning capabilities for civilian, commercial and military users.

"The GPS signal is also important for about 3.3 million jobs in the US in agriculture, aviation, banking, in all industries," says Christine Jones with L3 Harris Technology.

Delta IV Secondary: History
The ULA rocket first fired in late 2002 and has since fired multiple missions, including national security missions to the US Air Force, GPS satellites and programs of the National Intelligence Office.

Swan song, but not goodbye
Although this is the final launch of the Delta IV medium configuration, the heavy configuration will continue to fire beyond 2020 as the ULA Vulcan Centaur rocket launches.

The Delta IV Medium has one central core amplifier and two or four solid rocket motors attached to the core, while the heavy-duty missile has a central core and an additional two amplifiers clamped to the side of the central core.

[PICTURES: Final Delta IV lifts off from Cape Canaveral]

"This configuration will fly for the last time," said Katie Cyan of Northrop Grumman, before launching. "This is a special flight for us, because this is the last time we will fly GEM -60 boosters."

Northrop Grumman manufactures Graphite Epoxy Motors-60 rocket motors, which Delta IV uses to provide traction during lifting.

"Amplifiers provide initial thrust, for the most part, on take-off, so that there is enough energy to bring the vehicle to altitude," Qian said.

This Delta IV Medium launch requires only two solid rocket motors, those separated from the center core about 1 minute and 40 seconds after the launch.

1 rocket, 5 states
The Delta IV Medium configuration rocket hardware is manufactured in five states: California, Utah, Colorado, Alabama, and Florida. The rocket is assembled and the spacecraft is encapsulated in the Florida cone before launch.

Meet the Volcano
ULA's next-generation rocket, Centaur Volcano, which will replace Delta IV Medium, and the Atlas V workhorse is still being developed. ULA calls the Vulcan a "more affordable" option than its predecessors. The main booster of the rocket will be powered by Blue Origin's BE-4 engine and feature six solid rocket boosters.

According to the company website, Vulcan Centaur will collect a shock body of up to 3.8 million pounds with the ability to carry 56,000 pounds in low Earth orbit, 33,000 pounds in geobatic transfer orbit, and 16,000 pounds in geostationary orbit.

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