Tests of Boeing's Delta IV and Lockheed Martin's Atlas V engines have been completed

Final tests on the engines for the Boeing Delta IV and Lockheed Martin Atlas V launchers have been completed. Hardware has arrived at Pads 41 and 37 at Cape Canaveral in preparation for the maiden launches of the US Air Force-funded Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles (EELVs). The Atlas V is due to fly in May, while the first Delta IV mission has slipped from May to July at the request of first customer Eutelsat.

Boeing Rocketdyne's RS-68 liquid oxygen-liquid hydrogen first stage engine for the Delta IV has been certificated for flight.

The engine is the first US cryogenic unit for a first stage since the development of the Space Shuttle main engines, also developed by Rocketdyne. The 295t-thrust engine has been hot-fired in 183 test runs lasting 100s each.

The two stages of the first Delta IV have been mated inside the launch processing building next to Cape Canaveral's refurbished Saturn 1 Pad 37, and the vehicle is expected to be rolled out later this month, to be followed by a flight-readiness firing of the RS-68 in May, bringing the engine to full thrust for 1s.

The maiden launch is of the Delta IV Medium +4.2 series booster, with two solid rocket motors. A Delta IV Medium, with no strap-on solid rocket boosters but an enlarged fairing, will fly in October carrying a USAF Defense Satellite Communications System spacecraft on the first EELV programme contract flight. Another Delta IV Medium +4.2 booster will fly a commercial mission in November, carrying the Brazilian Estrala do Sul communications satellite.

Lockheed Martin says it has also finished testing for the Atlas V EELV's RD-180 first-stage engine, which will make its maiden flight from Pad 41 at Cape Canaveral on 9 May, carrying Eutelsat's Hot Bird 5 communications satellite.

The RD-180, made by RD AMROSS-Pratt & Whitney-NPO Energomash Russian, has already flown on one Atlas IIIA.

The first Atlas V, a 401-version with no strap-on motors and one Centaur engine in the upper stage, will be assembled in a nearby integration building, and rolled out for a 1s flight readiness test firing and a three-day countdown demonstration.

A second Atlas V launch is scheduled this year, carrying the Canadian Nimiq 2 communications satellite.

Source: Flight International