From Aviation Week and Space Technology 2005 February


Boeing is preparing a range of Delta IV Heavy launcher options for NASA Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) and unmanned cargo transportation architectures to the Moon and Mars, now that the massive new rocket has been flight tested.

The Dec. 21 launch of the 232-ft. vehicle on 2 million lb. thrust marked the largest all-liquid expendable booster flown since the last Saturn V in 1973. A second Delta IV Heavy mission is scheduled for this summer carrying a U.S. Air Force missile warning satellite. The first launch carried a dummy payload (AW&ST Jan. 3, p. 23).

Boeing wants NASA to consider the Delta IV Heavy for manned CEV missions, but is also pushing the Heavy for unmanned exploration launch roles. One Delta IV Medium version could also be a CEV player.

Boeing says even modest upgrades could double the Delta Heavy's Earth orbit capability to more than 50 metric tons, including being able to fire up to 20 metric tons on escape trajectories to Mars.

The current Heavy, like that tested in December, can already send about 10 metric tons to the Moon, while modest upgrades could more than double the lunar tonnage. NASA is asking all exploration program elements to standardize on metric ton references.

Also among the options (see chart p. 50) are performance upgrades using new upper-stage engines--including the Pratt & Whitney RL60 and the Mitsubishi/Boeing MB-60.

But the Delta IV Heavy is blazing into unknown territory.

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