|INTEGRATED DEFENSE SYSTEMS|
Delta IV: Successful launch and a bright future ahead
BY BOB HOWARD
Their work on the Delta IV, America's newest rocket and one of the U.S. Air Force's Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles, encompassed everything from the first set of viewgraphs to design, development, test and the picture-perfect launch.
Boeing workers and supplier teammates also created a new rocket engine; a state-of-the-art, moving production line; a robot-enabled factory; a transport ship that can ply both inland waterways and the ocean blue, and a new launch complex.
In all, the Air Force has to date awarded 28 EELV launch contracts. Boeing has received 21 contracts for the Delta IV, while Lockheed Martin has won seven for its Atlas V rocket.
The Air Force partially funded both programs to reduce the cost of launch and provide the United States with assured access to space.
A Boeing-wide Delta IV team, headquartered in Huntington Beach, Calif., began its work on the program in 1997. Nothing like it had been done there since the Apollo Saturn program of the 1960s.
Today, the Boeing Delta IV offers a wide range of lift capabilities, with all models in the family of rockets scheduled to be proven within the first 18 months of service.
The Delta IV family offers the U.S. Air Force
Greater range of lift capability. The Delta IV Heavy can deploy up
to 13 metric tons to geosynchronous transfer orbit.
Boeing also has pushed the state of the art for composites used on the Delta IV. This has led to an advanced design capability at temperature extremes.
The Delta IV effort involved Boeing employees from Huntington Beach and Canoga Park, Calif., Stennis, Miss., Cape Canaveral, Fla., Decatur, Ala., Huntsville, Ala., Houston, Texas, and Kent, Wash., as well as dozens of suppliers.
Boeing also placed significant value in the design for customers. This is the first time in a generation that an all-new launch vehicle first stage has been developed. This allowed the company to optimize systems and processes, unbound by any pre-existing constraints on the design or by the production facility. "It was challenging," said Dan Barron, director of the Delta IV First Stage Common Booster Core team, "and I really can't say enough about this team that met those challenges and overcame them. I am so impressed with our people and their commitment to work extremely long hours, for weeks and months, to deliver this quality product."
Boeing designed the Delta IV facility in Decatur, Ala., to produce as many as 40 Delta IV rockets per year.
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