Thursday morning the United Launch Alliance’s Delta IV Medium rocket would take flight in it’s last single-stick launch. The sky was streaked with the gray of condensed air Thursday at Cape Canaveral Air Force station in Florida. The rocket was carrying GPS III satellite into orbit. While this launch signifies the end of an era, it also marks the beginning of an age in aerospace technology.
Due to the necessity to keep in the competition, especially with SpaceX right at their backs, the ULA will be replacing its line of Delta and Atlas rockets for a Vulcan Centaur rocket in order to keep costs efficient.
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However, Delta will continue to fly as the US government is still in heavy support of these rockets. And as long as the government contracts keep coming, well that’s all the more reason to carry on. The Delta IV Heavy program contains the second most powerful rocket in the world, but the last flight for the rocket may come in 2024 when it launches a spy satellite for the NRC.