Spaceline - Covering the Past, Present and Future of Cape Canaveral

Contact Spaceline

Spaceline Home/Site Index

Launch Schedules

Spaceline Logo Cape Canaveral Florida

spaceline, inc.

About Spaceline

Spaceline Photo Gallery

Gift Shop






DELTA Fact Sheet
Written and Edited by Cliff Lethbridge


Classification: Space Launch Vehicle

Length: 90 feet

Diameter: 8 feet


Introduced in 1960, the original Delta was a three-stage launch vehicle made up of a Thor IRBM mated to improved Vanguard rocket upper stages.

The first stage employed a Rocketdyne engine which burned liquid oxygen/RP-1 (kerosene) liquid fuel and produced a thrust of 150,000 pounds.

An Aerojet-General second stage engine burned IRFNA/UDMH liquid fuel and provided 7,800 pounds of thrust.

The solid-fueled Able third stage motor, adapted from the Vanguard rocket, produced a thrust of 2,800 pounds.

Radio guidance equipment was carried aboard the first and second stages. The third stage was spin-stabilized at 140 r.p.m.

The vehicle could carry a 600-pound payload to low-Earth orbit. It was also designed to carry a 100-pound payload to geostationary transfer orbit, although the first version of the Delta was never used for that purpose.

In a typical flight profile, the first stage was fired at liftoff and burned for about two minutes. After first stage separation at an altitude of nearly 41 miles, the second stage was ignited and burned for about three minutes.

While the second stage burned out as the vehicle coasted to an altitude of about 161.5 miles, the third stage began spinning up to the proper number of revolutions.

Following jettison of the second stage, the third stage was fired for nearly one minute to achieve its necessary orbital velocity.

Copyright 2012 Spaceline, Inc.