From SpaceX to the latest NASA launch, every space launch is a marvel of modern engineering. However, on August 29th, 2019, the world closed a chapter in space travel as the Delta IV Medium Rocket took its final flight. Marking the historic occasion, the Delta crew called on AllAboutChallengeCoins to create a special operation coin to honor the rocket’s final mission.
A History of Service and a Rocket to the Future
It’s no exaggeration calling the Delta rockets one of space travel’s most prolific workhorses with 135 successful launches since the space race of the 1960s. Of those flights, the Delta IV Medium ran 29 successful launches on operations for national security, scientific research, and GPS deployment. The rocket’s final mission saw it carrying the Global Positioning System III Magellan satellite into orbit as part of an effort by the U.S. Air Force to modernize the GPS network. The rocket then closed a lifetime of service with a destructive deorbit into the ocean as part of an effort by ULA to minimize space debris in Earth’s orbit.
While not the last Delta IV rocket to enter retirement (that honor belongs to the Delta IV Heavy configuration,) the end of the Delta IV Medium marks a passing of the torch as the Delta series of rockets is replaced by the Vulcan Centaur in 2021. While updated to modern specs, including a new American-made engine. The Vulcan will carry on the Delta IV’s legacy as the next national security workhorse with interchangeable ULA hardware that will give the Medium lasting influence long after retirement.
The Final Delta IV Medium Challenge Coin
When AllAboutChallengeCoins was approached to design a challenge coin for the Delta IV Medium’s final operation, we knew it needed to be something special to commemorate both the mission and the legacy of the Delta IV Medium as a workhorse of U.S. space travel.
For the coin design, ULA gave us an image of the rocket’s distinctive orange outline as a starting point. To keep the rocket at the center of attention, we used dark cool colors to fill the background and create a sharp contrast against the rocket’s iconic orange paint scheme. The original image used red for the stars and text, however, red wasn’t coming out very well in the first draft. For the actual coin, we used raised silver text in the coin’s natural plating instead to better match the color scheme. At 1.5”, the Delta IV Medium coin is slightly smaller than most challenge coins but makes the most of its size with a custom shape that show’s the Delta IV Medium in rocketing flight.
Design Continuity Front and Back
Flipping the coin over to its obverse, ULA wanted an American flag emblazoned across the back of the design. However, the initial design looked a little plain with just the American flag. Text in raised polished silver was added to honor the involvement organization involved in the last mission including the 45th Space Wing (45 SW), the 5th Space Launch Squadron (5 SLS,) and ULA. You’ll notice you can actually see the Delta IV rocket and its satellite payload peeking out from the other side. The design continuity of the rocket on the front and back of the coin is a unique touch most don’t even think about doing and the end result came out looking great in the final design.
Designed specifically for the staff and crew who helped make the Delta IV Medium Rocket’s final mission successful, the only way to earn this unique coin is by being a part of one of those listed organizations on the coin’s obverse.
Telling a Story With Every Design
Since it’s the first launch, the Delta IV Rockets have tirelessly worked as a foundation of U.S. space travel. To say we’re proud to help close their final chapter is an understatement. At AllAboutChallengeCoins, we craft products that are more than mere baubles, we try to tell a story with every project, from honoring a career of service to celebrating a lifetime of missions in space travel. At the end of this story, we’re proud to help commemorate this closing chapter in the service of the Delta IV Medium Rocket.
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