United Launch Alliance sent a triple-core Delta 4-Heavy with a top secret U.S. government spy satellite into orbit Saturday from California’s Central Coast, closing out a chapter in the tangled history of a launch pad originally built to support military astronaut missions on Titan rockets and space shuttles. Two more Delta 4-Heavy rockets are left in ULA’s inventory for launches in 2023 and 2024 from Cape Canaveral.
United Launch Alliance’s Delta 4-Heavy rocket lifted off from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California at 3:25 p.m. PDT (6:25 p.m. EDT; 2225 GMT) Saturday with a classified spacecraft for the National Reconnaissance Office, the U.S. government’s spy satellite agency. The heavy-lifter launched for the final time from California, with two more Delta 4-Heavy flights remaining from Cape Canaveral before the rocket’s retirement.
These views show United Launch Alliance’s 233-foot-tall Delta 4-Heavy rocket standing on Space Launch Complex-6 at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California on the eve of liftoff with a classified spy satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office. This will be the final Delta launch from the West Coast.
United Launch Alliance will move out of historic Space Launch Complex 6 at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California following the flight of a Delta 4-Heavy rocket set for Saturday, leaving the military to find a new tenant for the launch pad once intended to host space shuttle missions on the West Coast.