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Launches: Last West Coast Delta IV launch September 24

Launches: Last West Coast Delta IV launch September 24

The final United Launch Alliance Delta IV heavy-lift vehicle lifting off from California will take flight at 2:53 p.m. PT (21:53 UTC) on September 24, 2022, from Vandenberg Space Force Base. The spacecraft will carry the National Reconnaissance Office’s NROL-91 mission, the agency’s newest spy satellite.

Currently, the Delta IV is the biggest rocket flying, according to UAL:

The triple-core Delta IV Heavy is the only operational rocket in the world today that possesses all necessary attributes to meet the stringent requirements to perform the NROL-91 mission. It will be the NRO’s 10th launch aboard ULA’s heavy-performance rocket, which is recognized for delivering high-priority missions for national security and NASA.

The NRO has asked UAL to end its live launch coverage when the rocket’s payload fairing opens, revealing the classified satellite. The webcast will begin at 2:33 p.m. PT (21:33 UTC). Fairing separation should occur about seven minutes after liftoff.

Launches: A black-and-white patch of a man in a hat with flag and eagle.
This is the patch that the National Reconnaissance Office adopted for the upcoming final Delta IV launch on September 24, 2022, from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. The rocket will carry an NRO classified payload during the NROL-91 mission. Image via NRO.

Last flight out

This will be the last flight from Vandenberg Space Force Base of the the Delta IV, which the NRO described this way:

The Delta IV Heavy configuration is comprised of a common booster core (CBC), a cryogenic upper stage and a 5-meter-diameter payload fairing (PLF). The Delta IV Heavy employs two additional CBCs as liquid rocket boosters to augment the first-stage CBC. The Delta IV Heavy can lift 28,370 kg (62,540 lbs) to low Earth orbit and 13,810 kg (30,440 lbs) to geostationary transfer orbit. It is an all liquid-fueled rocket, consisting of an upper stage, one main booster and two strap-on boosters.

Bottom line: The last Delta IV heavy-lift vehicle launch in California will carry the NROL-91 mission on September 24, 2022, from Vandenberg Space Force Base.

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