Scheduled:Date - Satellite(s) - Rocket - Launch Site - Time (UTC)2020August 26 - NROL-44: Orion 10 (Mentor 8 ) (TBD) - Delta IV-H [D-385] - Canaveral SLC-37B - 05:50-10:25Q4 - NROL-82: KH-11 18 (Crystal 18, Block 5 #2) (TBD) - Delta IV-H [D-386] - Vandenberg SLC-62022Q3 - NROL-91 (TBD) - Delta IV-H [D-387] - Vandenberg SLC-6NET Q4 - NROL-68: Orion 11 (Mentor 9) (TBD) - Delta IV-H [D-388] - Canaveral SLC-37B2024February - NROL-70 - Delta IV-H [D-389] - Canaveral SLC-37B
Tory Bruno, ULA’s president and CEO, said in a recent interview that the company has no plans to produce more Delta 4-Heavy launchers.“It’s not really practical anymore,” Bruno told Spaceflight Now. “We’ve got the five left. Two of them will go this year, and we have allowed the supply chain that supports the Delta 4-Heavy to begin drying up after the pieces that are already delivered.”
Just out of curiosity. Can ULA still get new replacement RS-68A engines if for what ever reason some of them turn out to be not serviceable?
Will this be the new normal for Delta IV Heavy?
Scheduled:Date - Satellite(s) - Rocket - Launch Site - Time (UTC)2020September 26 27 28 29 - NROL-44: Orion 10 (RIO 10, Mission 8306, Mentor 8 ) (TBD) - Delta IV-H [D-385] - Canaveral SLC-37B - 04:02December - NROL-82: KH-11 18 (Crystal 18, Block 5 #2) (TBD) - Delta IV-H [D-386] - Vandenberg SLC-62021annual Delta IV-H WDR - Canaveral SLC-37Bannual Delta IV-H WDR - Vandenberg SLC-62022NLT Q3 / FY 2022 - NROL-91: ?? - Delta IV-H [D-387] - Canaveral SLC-37B Vandenberg SLC-6annual Delta IV-H WDR - Canaveral SLC-37B2023NET Q4 / FY 2023 - NROL-68: Orion 11 (RIO 11, Mission 8307, Mentor 9) (TBD) - Delta IV-H [D-388] - Vandenberg SLC-6 Canaveral SLC-37B2024NLT February / FY 2024 - NROL-70: Orion 12 (RIO 12, Mission 8308, Mentor 10) (TBD) - Delta IV-H [D-389] - Canaveral SLC-37BChanges on September 25thChanges on September 26thChanges on September 27thzubenelgenubi
Rather than worry about using other boosters maybe we should be worried about the ability to get the Delta IV Heavy off the launchpad without "undue" delays and what this means for the health of the booster, payload, and GSE.The current booster was erected on the launchpad last November, more than 300 days ago. The wet dress rehearsal was conducted last January, more than 270 days ago. At the time the booster was placed on the launch stand the launch was scheduled for June. Last year when asked why it was going to be on the stand so long, Tory Bruno said it was a "special" launch. Now with more than a 3 month delay on the pad and an aborted launch a month ago (apparently after spool up of at least one engine had started) we are still getting day by day delays with GSE issues being the stated reason.Will this be the new normal for Delta IV Heavy?The last (ever) Delta IV Medium launch was in August of 2019 and the most recent Heavy in January of 2019. There will be another Heavy launch late this year (or early next year?) from Vandenberg but the next launches of Heavy wont be till at least Q3 and Q4 of 2022. The last Heavy is currently reported to be scheduled for February 2024.At least for SLS NASA has maintained that they need at least a once a year cadence to ensure reliability of the launcher, GSE, and pad workforce. How will ULA and the Air Force (Space Force?) address these issues for the Delta IV Heavy? Are there any known issues for having the booster upright this long on the pad and are there issues for the payload (reportedly the latest Orion). Presumably they wouldn't conduct another WDR without removing the payload from the booster (is that even possible without a major delay?). So my thought is that there will continue to be GSE issues with every launch and possibly increasing issues for each launch.Is Delta IV Heavy destined to become even more difficult to get launched?Seems that maybe NROL is stuck between a rock and a hard place until they get Vulcan and the extended fairing and vertical integration on Falcon Heavy.(Thanks for moving from the NROL-44 launch thread, it fits better here))
Delta IV Heavy scrubs again, ULA chief vows to change readiness operations“The reduced Delta launch tempo is certainly a factor.”ERIC BERGER - 10/1/2020, 6:07 AM[…]In response to an inquiry about these issues before Wednesday night's scrub, United Launch Alliance chief Tory Bruno told Ars, "The reduced Delta launch tempo is certainly a factor. We will be changing our operations readiness process for the remaining Delta IV Heavy missions in order to avoid the type of issues seen here."
Since Vulcan and Atlas are, as I understand it going to use SLC-41, is there a resistance to maintenance expenditures on that SLC-37 pad? Fewer and fewer launches planned there and the temptation to cut corners seems high.
No. Pads have preventative maintenance and an activation with lots of testing before the launch. The ground systems that had issues here were PM'ed and tested. However, every pad is complex and different. We made adjustments in the DeltaII fly out. Will do the same here.
One of F1 launch failures was due to corrosion from vehicle sitting on pad to long.
In defence of ULA, Tory has stated that ULA does do preventative maintenance and extensive testing before launch. This does not sound like they are cutting corners. Unfortunately for this launch, a bunch of worked at N, failed at N+1 events have occurred. Not sure what the "adjustments" below entail, but will probably involve a closer eye on what needs to be tested and maintained more often.https://twitter.com/torybruno/status/1311719294041022468"No. Pads have preventative maintenance and an activation with lots of testing before the launch. The ground systems that had issues here were PM'ed and tested. However, every pad is complex and different. We made adjustments in the DeltaII fly out. Will do the same here."
ULA has claimed in the past that they are reliable enough that actually firing the engines at the end of a WDR wouldn't tell them anything
QuoteThe issue that caused the automated abort is understood and resolved. A sensor incorrectly reported that a valve in the RS68A was not in the flight position. We have implemented a change that will better verify its position.
The issue that caused the automated abort is understood and resolved. A sensor incorrectly reported that a valve in the RS68A was not in the flight position. We have implemented a change that will better verify its position.
It seems strange that swing arm repair would be enough to “indefinitely” delay the launch. I suspect this is the public story, but that there also are other (more serious) problems they are fixing at the same time that are the *real* long poles for the delay. But this is only my speculation.