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The Delta-K is an American rocket stage, developed by McDonnell Douglas and Aerojet. It was first used on August 27, 1989 as the second stage for the Delta 4000 series.

ManufacturerUnited Launch Alliance
(formerly Boeing and McDonnell Douglas)
Country of originUnited States
Used onDelta 4000
Delta 5000
Delta II
General characteristics
Height5.9 meters (19 ft)[1]
Diameter2.4 meters (7.9 ft)[1]
Gross mass6,954 kilograms (15,331 lb)[1]
Propellant mass6,004 kilograms (13,237 lb)[2]
Engine details
Engines1 AJ10-118K
Thrust43.63 kilonewtons (9,810 lbf)[1]
Specific impulse319 sec[1]
Burn time431 seconds[1]
FuelAerozine 50 / N
Spent Delta-K stage, photographed in orbit

It has continued to serve as the second stage for subsequent variants of the Delta rocket.

It is propelled by a single AJ10-118K rocket engine, fueled by Aerozine 50 and dinitrogen tetroxide,[1] which are hypergolic.

The Delta-K has a long heritage to the first Able stage used in Project Vanguard. The AJ-10 engine was first used in the Able second stage of the Vanguard rocket, as the AJ10-118 configuration. It was initially fueled by nitric acid and UDMH.[3] An AJ10 engine was first fired in flight during the third Vanguard launch, on 17 March 1958, which successfully placed the Vanguard 1 satellite into orbit.

As of 25 May 2008, 138 have been launched,[4] and excluding one which was destroyed by the explosion of a lower stage, none have failed.[4]

The Delta-K was used as the second stage of the Delta II rocket from 1989 to 2018.[4] This second stage was retired at conclusion of the ICESat-2 launch on 15 September, 2018.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Delta K Archived 5 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine, Encyclopedia Astronautica, date 30 Jan 1997, accessed 2011-02-01.
  2. ^ Delta K Archived 14 July 2014 at the Wayback Machine, Spaceflight 101, accessed 2014-07-13.
  3. ^ Wade, Mark. "AJ10-118". Encyclopedia Astronautica. Archived from the original on 6 July 2008. Retrieved 22 June 2008. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  4. ^ a b c Forsyth, Kevin S. (10 August 2007). "Vehicle Description and Designations". History of the Delta Launch Vehicle. Retrieved 6 June 2013.