Kevin Forsyth Home
Image copyright 1996, Florida Today

History of the Delta Launch Vehicle

Delta Home
Background
Flight Log
Current News
Upcoming Launches
Frequently Asked Questions
Programs and Links
Vehicle Description
Performance Specs
Sources

kevinforsyth.net

 

To Reach the High Frontier: A History of U.S. Launch Vehicles

"A valuable contribution to the field of aerospace literature," this book includes an extensive overview of Delta history and development along with chapters on Atlas, Titan, Scout, Space Shuttle, and much more.

Order the book today
at Amazon.com.

 

Many other excellent books about spaceflight are recommended here.

 

Vehicle Description

Letter Designations....Number Designations....Delta Evolution....Current Family....Payload Fairings



Vehicle      Intro   Stage   Modification

Delta        1960      1     Modified Thor, MB-3 Blk I engine
                       2     AJ10-118 (Vanguard-derived propulsion system)
                       3     Vanguard X-248 motor (Altair)

Delta A      1962      1     MB-3 Blk II engine

Delta B      1962      2     AJ10-118D - tanks lengthened, higher energy oxidizer used

Delta C      1964      3     Scout X-258 motor (Altair 2) or FW-4D [Delta C1]

Delta D      1964      0     3 Thor-developed Castor I motors

Delta E      1965      0     Castor II motors
                       1     MB-3 Blk III engine
                       2     DSV-3E-3 (AJ10-118E) - propellant tanks widened
                       3     Scout X-258 motor (Altair 2) or FW-4D [Delta E1]

(Delta F)                    Delta E1 without augmentation motors - never flown

Delta G      1966      3     none - used a special reentry vehicle for biological
                                    recovery (flights 43 & 51 only)

(Delta H)                    Delta G without augmentation motors - never flown

Delta J      1968      3     TE-364-3 (Star 37D)

(Delta K)                    Cryogenic upper stage design study - never flown

Delta L,M,N  1968      1     Long Tank Thor - tanks lengthened, cylindrical RP-1 tank
                       3     L: FW-4   M: TE-364-3   N: none

M-6,N-6      1970      0     6 Castor II



Four Digit Designator (1972 - 2008)


First digit - Type of First Stage & Augmentation
          0 - Long Tank, MB-3 engine, Castor II motors [1968 baseline]
          1 - Extended Long Tank, MB-3 engine, Castor II motors [1972]
          2 - Extended Long Tank, RS-27 engine, Castor II motors [1974]
          3 - Extended Long Tank, RS-27 engine, Castor IV motors [1975]
          4 - Extended Long Tank, MB-3 engine, Castor IVA motors [1989-90] (2 missions)
          5 - Extended Long Tank, RS-27 engine, Castor IVA motors [1989] (1 mission)
          6 - Extra Extended Long Tank, RS-27 engine, Castor IVA motors [1989]
          7 - Extra Extended Long Tank, RS-27A engine, GEM 40 motors [1990]
          8 - Delta III Tank, RS-27A engine, GEM 46 motors [1998]

Second digit - Number of Augmentation Motors
          3, 4, 6, or 9 solid rocket motors

Third digit - Type of Second Stage
          0 - AJ10-118F (Aerojet) (DSV-3N-4) (Titan 3C Transtage derivative) [1972]
          1 - TR-201 (TRW) * [1972]
          2 - AJ10-118K (Aerojet) [1982]
          3 - RL10B-2 (Pratt & Whitney) [1998]

Fourth digit - Type of Third Stage
          0 - No Third Stage
          2 - FW-4 [1968] (digit never used)
          3 - Star 37D (TE-364-3) [1968]
          4 - Star 37E (TE-364-4) [1972]
          5 - Star 48B (TE-M-799) (PAM-D Derivative) [1989]
          6 - Star 37FM (TE-M-783) [1998]

Dash numbers - Fairing Size
         -8   - 8-foot cylindrical (standard on 1000- thru 3000-series, discontinued)
         -9.5 - 9.5-foot (standard on Delta II, thus omitted from the Flight Log)
         -10  - 10-foot metal skin-and-stringer (discontinued)
         -10C - 10-foot composite
         -10L - lengthened 10-foot composite

Example: Delta 7925-10
          Extra Extended Long Tank, RS-27A engine, nine GEM 40 motors,
          AJ10-118K second stage, Star 48B third stage, 10-foot diameter fairing.


Four Digit Designator (beginning 2008?)


First digit - Type of First Stage
          2 - Delta II booster
          3 - Delta III booster
          4 - Delta IV booster

Second digit - Number of Augmentation Motors
          0, 2, 3, 4, or 9 solid rocket motors

Third digit - Type of Second Stage
          2 - AJ10-118K (Aerojet)
          4 - RL10B-2 (Pratt & Whitney) with 4-meter tankage
          5 - RL10B-2 (Pratt & Whitney) with 5-meter tankage


Fourth digit - Type of Third Stage
          0 - No Third Stage
          5 - Star 48B (TE-M-799) (PAM-D Derivative)
          6 - Star 37FM (TE-M-783)

Auxiliary letter - Alternate Configurations
          blank - Standard
          H - Heavy Configuration
              Delta II - GEM 46 booster motors
              Delta IV - 2 CBC [Common Booster Core] strap-ons

Dash numbers - Fairing Size
          Delta II - diameter in feet
                     9.5 standard, metal skin-and-stringer 
                     10C composite
                     10L lengthened composite
          Delta III, IV - length in meters



The Delta Family of Launch Vehicles




The Delta Family of Launch Vehicles

(Boeing image)


Delta Payload Fairings

10-foot composite 4-meter for Delta III


8-foot cylindrical Standard 9.5-foot 10-foot skin-and-stringer


Compiled by Kevin S. Forsyth. Last update 15 March 2008.

Back to top

Visits since 04-Dec-97

 
History of the Delta Launch Vehicle by Kevin S. Forsyth