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Feb 24, 2010 12:18 AM by Monica Quintero

Delta IV heavy rocket makes its debut at Vandenberg Air Force Base

It will be the most powerful rocket ever launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base. For the first time, a Delta IV heavy rocket is at the base being prepped for launch. Since the 1960's, Delta rockets have carried satellites into orbit.

The Delta IV is meant to accommodate larger loads. Lieutenant Colonel Brady Hauboldt, launch squadron commander, said, "This is essentially three rockets put together on one space launch and it'll be quite a show."

In fact, in it's final configuration, it will stand around 238 feet tall. To give you a comparison-- the rocket is as tall as a 23-story building. As for its power, it's incredible. It can launch a school bus that weighs more than 28,000 pounds into orbit, around 22,000 miles above the earth. Hauboldt, said, "It allows us a new capability for our nation that we hadn't had previously."

Jim Boyle, site manager, said, "The company spent about $58 million to upgrade the ground support equipment, to modify the pad and provide the services required to launch a heavy lift vehicle."

Delta IV is set to be launched in December of this year. In the meantime, those involved will be working hard to get the massive rocket ready. Boyle said, "We've got a number of tests that we'll do with the rocket over the next several months."

But once it's ready to go, officials at the base said expect to feel and hear something like never before. KSBY News asked what will be launched inside Delta IV. Vandenberg officials would not give out that information. They said it's confidential. Vandenberg started work on this project about 3 1/2 years ago. Officials also said it gobbles the fuel up at a ton a second, so it would empty a swimming pool in a second.

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