First Delta IV launchBoeing’s new Delta-4 was successfully launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Following a number of delays, the Delta-4’s maiden launch (a Delta Medium 4.2 model) placed Eutelsat’s $100-million W-5 communications satellite in a precise geosynchronous transfer orbit. The Delta-4 employs the first new large rocket engine developed in the U.S. in 28 years, the Boeing Rocketdyne RS-68, which at 2.9 MN thrust is also the largest hydrogen-fueled engine ever built, exceeding the Space Shuttle Main Engine’s thrust by 700 kN. A second successful launch of the Delta-4 lofted the U.S. Air Force’s final 1160-kg Defense Satellite Communication System’s (DSCS-III’s) B-6 spacecraft on 29 August.
Delta IV is an active expendable launch system in the Delta rocket family. Delta IV uses rockets designed by Boeing’s Integrated Defense Systems division and built in the United Launch Alliance (ULA) facility in Decatur, Alabama. Final assembly is completed at the launch site by ULA. The rockets were designed to launch payloads into orbit for the United States Air Force Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program and commercial satellite business. Delta IV rockets are available in five versions: Medium, Medium+ (4,2), Medium+ (5,2), Medium+ (5,4), and Heavy, which are tailored to suit specific payload size and weight ranges. Delta IV was primarily designed to satisfy the needs of the U.S. military.
Challenger disasterOn 28 January 1986, space shuttle Challenger broke apart 73 seconds into flight, killing all seven crewmembers on board. It was the first time NASA had lost astronauts during a spaceflight.
Richard Nixon approves the Space Shuttle (STS) programmeOn 5 January 1972, US President Richard Nixon approved the Space Shuttle (STS) programme. First lauched in the early 1980s, it is a spacecraft operated by NASA for orbital human spaceflight missions. Major missions have included launching numerous satellites and interplanetary probes, conducting space science experiments, and servicing and construction of space stations.