CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The final launch of the Delta IV Medium rocket took place on Thursday morning as United Launch Alliance will be retiring the rocket after nearly two decades of flights.  

ULA is looking toward the future as it retires the Delta rocket. 

"We're flying out the Delta IV medium," said Tony Taliancich, ULA Launch Operations director and general manager. "Our plan and strategy is to eventually transition our team towards the Vulcan Centaur for the future. That is our vehicle that we're positioning ourselves for the long term competition and survivability in the market."

Eventually the Delta IV Heavy and Atlas V rockets will also be retired to make way for the next generation Vulcan rocket.

The medium is the single "stick" version of the Delta IV rocket. It first launched in 2002, and this will be its 29th flight.

The rocket has been used primarily to launch national security satellites for the U.S. military.

On board this Delta IV Medium on Thursday is the GPS III satellite for the U.S. Air Force. Nicknamed Magellan, it is the second in a series of 10 next generation GPS III satellites built by Lockheed Martin.

It is designed to improve accuracy, making it three times more accurate for military users. It also has up to eight times improved anti-jamming capabilities to make sure important signals used by our troops are not interrupted.

In addition, the satellite broadcasts a compatible signal with other international GPS systems, allowing us the ability to receive signals from other country's satellites.

In addition to the 10 GPS III satellites, the Air Force selected Lockheed Martin to build 22 additional GPS III Follow On satellites with additional capabilities.

So in total, the company is under contract to build 32 GPS satellites for the military.

Thursday's 27-minute launch window opened at 9:06 a.m. ET it had been 9:01 a.m. — but it was pushed back twice — from Space Launch Complex 37 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

However, on Thursday morning, ULA tweeted out that there was an indication of a hydrogen leak, but the countdown is still proceeding. 

Yet, ULA later tweeted out that there was no leak discovered.


Re-Watch the Delta IV Rocket Launch