December 15, 2019

Photos: Delta 4-Heavy blasts off from Vandenberg


If you would like to see more articles like this please support our coverage of the space program by becoming a Spaceflight Now Member. If everyone who enjoys our website helps fund it, we can expand and improve our coverage further.

The first of up to seven United Launch Alliance missions lifted off Jan. 19 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, where a Delta 4-Heavy launcher fired into orbit with 2.1 million pounds of thrust from three hydrogen-fueled RS-68A main engines with a U.S. government spy satellite.

The orange and white launcher, standing 233 feet (71 meters) tall, lifted off from Space Launch Complex-6 at Vandenberg at 11:10 a.m. PST (2:10 p.m. EST; 1910 GMT) on Jan. 19, after more than a month of delays caused by technical concerns with the Delta 4-Heavy rocket, and bouts of bad weather.

The launch marked the 11th flight of a Delta 4-Heavy rocket — the most powerful in ULA’s inventory — the third time the heavy-duty launcher variant has flown from Vandenberg, a military base around 140 miles (225 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles.

The Delta 4-Heavy delivered to orbit a top secret spy satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office after heading south-southeast from Vandenberg over the Pacific Ocean.

Read our full story on the launch for details on the mission.

The photos posted below show the Delta 4-Heavy on the launch pad during rollback of the mobile gantry at SLC-6, followed by ignition of the three Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-68A main engines and the Delta 4-Heavy’s climb away from then Pacific coastline.

The flames visible in the photos during engine startup are normal for the Delta 4-Heavy, which is covered in orange insulation to protect the vehicle. The insulation was blackened during the ignition sequence, as expected.

Credit: United Launch Alliance
Credit: United Launch Alliance
Credit: United Launch Alliance
Credit: United Launch Alliance
Credit: United Launch Alliance
Credit: United Launch Alliance
Credit: Alex Polimeni/Spaceflight Now
Credit: Alex Polimeni/Spaceflight Now
Credit: Alex Polimeni/Spaceflight Now
Credit: Alex Polimeni/Spaceflight Now
Credit: Alex Polimeni/Spaceflight Now
Credit: United Launch Alliance
Credit: United Launch Alliance
Credit: Alex Polimeni/Spaceflight Now
Credit: Alex Polimeni/Spaceflight Now
Credit: United Launch Alliance
Credit: United Launch Alliance
Credit: United Launch Alliance
Credit: Alex Polimeni/Spaceflight Now
Credit: United Launch Alliance
Credit: Alex Polimeni/Spaceflight Now
Credit: Alex Polimeni/Spaceflight Now
Credit: Alex Polimeni/Spaceflight Now
Credit: United Launch Alliance
Credit: United Launch Alliance

Email the author.

Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.


If you would like to see more articles like this please support our coverage of the space program by becoming a Spaceflight Now Member. If everyone who enjoys our website helps fund it, we can expand and improve our coverage further.
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!