Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2005 January 26
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First Launch of the Delta IV Heavy
Credit: Ecliptic Enterprises Corporation, Boeing, USAF

Explanation: The new Delta IV Heavy Launch Vehicle is the largest rocket ever to be launched by the US Air Force. The Delta IV Heavy is capable of launching over 23,000 kilograms into low Earth orbit. The first launch of the Delta IV Heavy occurred last month and was largely successful with the exception that the boosters shut off several seconds prematurely. Boeing's Delta IV Heavy is the largest of the Delta IV series, packing the punch of three rocket boosters instead of one. Pictured above, the Delta IV Heavy is seen lifting off by a RocketCam perched on its side. The time-lapse sequence shows the launch, one of the rocket boosters being jettisoned, and a test satellite further lifting away. Lockheed Martin is developing its own heavy lifting version of its Altas rocket series in conjunction with the US Air Force's Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) progam.

Tomorrow's picture: WIRO shadow

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