The flight of a United Launch Alliance Delta 4-Heavy rocket set for Aug. 26 from Cape Canaveral continues the Delta rocket family’s countdown to retirement. With five Delta 4-Heavy missions left to launch, ULA’s chief executive Tory Bruno says there are no plans to build more as the company transitions to the next-generation Vulcan Centaur rocket.
While production of rockets and satellites continues across much of the space industry amid the coronavirus pandemic, engineers at several space companies — including SpaceX, Virgin Orbit and Blue Origin — have started working on medical devices and protective equipment in response to shortages in hospitals across the United States.
SpaceX and its visionary founder Elon Musk win the lion’s share of public attention in the commercial rocket arena, with dramatic, increasingly routine booster landings and spectacular stunts like the launch of Musk’s Tesla Roadster on the maiden flight of the company’s new Falcon Heavy rocket last month.
A full-scale BE-4 engine developed by Blue Origin, the space company founded by Amazon.com’s Jeff Bezos, is installed on a test stand in West Texas for a series of hotfire tests that United Launch Alliance will closely examine before settling on the reusable methane-fueled engine for its new-generation Vulcan rocket.
Rocket-builder United Launch Alliance unveiled a first-of-a-kind website Wednesday that shows potential customers exactly what it will cost to buy an Atlas 5 booster, along with expected savings based on the rocket’s demonstrated reliability, ULA’s on-time launch record and the company’s sophisticated guidance system.