The rocket launched a classified national security payload for the US National Reconnaissance Office (NRO).
Aerojet Rocketdyne supplies the boost engines, upper-stage engines and the composite overwrapped pressure vessels for the Delta IV Heavy rocket. This is the 12th Delta IV Heavy rocket launch and the eighth for the NRO.
“For nearly two decades, Aerojet Rocketdyne’s reliable, flight-proven propulsion systems have powered the Delta IV Heavy rocket to launch the NRO’s most important missions,” said Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and President Eileen P. Drake. “Aerojet Rocketdyne consistently supports our nation’s most critical national security requirements in the domains of space and defence.”
The Delta IV Heavy first stage features three common booster cores, each powered by an Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-68A rocket engine. The RS-68A is the world’s most powerful hydrogen-fueled engine generating 702,000 pounds of thrust at sea level.
The three-engine first stage provided more than 2.1 million pounds of thrust at sea level to launch the NRO payload.
The rocket’s Delta Cryogenic Second Stage (DCSS) is powered by an Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10B-2 engine that generates 24,750 pounds of thrust at altitude. The flight-proven RL10 family of liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen-fueled rocket engines has been in operation for more than five decades, with over 500 RL10 engines used to power launch vehicle upper stages.
Aerojet Rocketdyne also supplied the 12 MR-106 reaction control thrusters that provide roll, pitch and yaw control for the DCSS.
ARDÉ, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne, provided the composite overwrapped pressure vessels on the first and second stages of the launch vehicle.
Aerojet Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc, is a world-recognised aerospace and defence leader that provides propulsion systems and energetics to the space, missile defence and strategic systems, and tactical systems areas, in support of domestic and international customers.