Delta IV Heavy Rocket vs. 2011 Ram 3500 Heavy Duty Diesel

Delta IV Heavy Rocket vs. 2011 Ram 3500 Heavy Duty Diesel

Think your Ford, GM or Ram heavy-duty pickup truck is the strongest rig around? It can’t hold a candle to this candle: a Delta IV Heavy rocket, as you’ll see in PUTC’s out-of-this-world comparison with a 2011 Ram 3500 Heavy Duty diesel.

Heavy-duty pickup trucks are indispensable workhorses for personal use and small businesses. They can tow and haul gross combined truck and trailer setups weighing up to 15 tons or more powerfully and efficiently across the country.

But what if you’re the government or a major corporation that needs to deliver 30,000 pounds to a spot hundreds to thousands of miles above the country, in space? For that, you need a heavy booster like the Delta IV Heavy, which is set to become the largest rocket ever launched from the West Coast of the U.S. on Thursday afternoon, carrying a classified spy satellite.

Today’s one-ton Ram Heavy Duty 3500 has a gross combined weight rating of 24,500 pounds, though that number will be bumped to 25,400 pounds when a new Max Tow Package option becomes available, according to Chrysler.

GCWR is the maximum allowable weight for a pickup pulling a trailer, including cargo and passengers, that the truck can handle without risking damage.

Coincidentally, the maximum payload that the Delta IV Heavy can lift to geosynchronous orbit 22,300 miles above Earth is 28,650 pounds, just 3,250 pounds more than the Ram 3500’s GCWR. So, if you ever had a need (and the money!) to put your truck, trailer and payload into space, the Delta IV Heavy would be just the ticket.

The infographic below has all the key details you need to know. Just remember: If your truck ever had a tough time pulling its gross combined weight up a hill, the Delta IV Heavy generates more than 100,000 times the Ram’s power output to lift the near-equivalent weight into space. And it does so with zero emissions!

In the meantime, we’re jumping in the ultra-capable Ram 3500 to drive up to Vandenberg Air Force Base for the launch at 1:08 p.m.

We’ll check back later today with pictures of the truck and rocket launch.



does it come in backpack variety? That way we can put it on our backs and become super hero's! Lol!

Cool article, I always enjoy reading about our latest technology developments as a country. Thanks, Mike.

That was a good read! The fuel economy is interesting. The Ram looks like a Prius now! haha. :)

Wow, so Ram looses another shootout.

Interesting. Thanks!

"Wow, so Ram looses another shootout."

Where is the Dodge/Ram love?

0.00087 mpg. $600,000 to fill up.

Cool rig!

That thing is harder on fuel than a Ford 5.4. LOL
100,000,000 per unit - sounds like a tax payer bailout to me ;)

Ram still beats the rocket 0-60 .. WIN !


This could be #6 way to improve performance of your diesel truck. It would be out of this world ;)

The MPG rating of the Delta is a bit unfair - looking at just the first stage is like looking at just the first few seconds of acceleration in a car, which would be far lower than the overall MPG rating. If you consider the total distance traveled on the fuel (into orbit, so distance is almost unbounded, although the orbit will eventually decay) the fuel economy will be much much better.

Any word on what the new GVWR will be?

Yeah, but try parallel parking a Delta IV.

once again high elevations testing, my ford wont have a chance in this one either

Maybe the Ford F450 can step in since it's the only pickup above class 3. But it's not to say I don't like the Ram, it's just you would need a class 4 or 5 truck, which is chassis cab only stock. But if you know a few aftermarket folk, you can pull it off (no pun intended).

As I read this, a friend walked by and said "really?? no torque?"

17 million horsepower..... per booster. There are three of them.

Don't think the engineers would care to even attempt to guess what the torque would be like if it could have it. Why??

17 million horsepower..... per booster. There are three of them.

Well ,I would be able to fill the rocket up twice,then I would have to sell my house,2011 Ram H.D, my classic Mopar's for another round trip !

The comment about emissions isn't very accurate. "And it does so with zero emissions!"
Solid rocket boosters create a great deal of toxic emissions. In fact NASA concluded that 100 Saturn V rockets fired at the same time would destroy 90% of the Ozone layer.

@Engineer: That comment was 100% accurate. The Delta IV Heavy only burns liquid hydrogen and oxygen. It's only emission is water vapor. I made more pollution just starting up the Cummins this morning.

11 mpg? That's about what I got with my 57 GMC 283 30 years ago. Some progress?

Here is the video Mike.

@Tom: Thanks! Seeing those main engines ignite is crazy. :-)

You chose the one vehicle that makes a Dodge pickup look fuel-efficient by comparison. Nice.

Hopefully Dodge updated the suspension to achieve this new rating?? My NEW 2010 3500 is UNSAFE & UNDRIVEABLE. Buyers Beware.

"Solid rocket boosters create a great deal of toxic emissions. In fact NASA concluded that 100 Saturn V"

The Saturn V wasn't solid fueled. The first stage burned kerosene and oxygen. Much as the Ram does. Later stages ran hydrogen and oxygen.


Hopefully Dodge updated the suspension to achieve this new rating?? My NEW 2010 3500 is UNSAFE & UNDRIVEABLE. Buyers Beware.

Why is it ? Tell us more !


Hi Mike,
My truck & many others have a nasty vibration that is transfered thru the cab. Along with the vibration my truck will oscilate at highway speeds making it VERY hard to control at times. Dodge has NO answer for the problem & NO means to diagnois the problem. Truck is currently parked with only 1,700 miles on it as i feel it is UNSAFE to operate in it's current condition. Thanks for your interest!!

@ UNDER PRESSURE Didn't you test drive the truck first? Why would you buy a truck that shakes? If it didn't shake when you bought it then something happened after purchase. Either some component failure or maybe something you did (accident, bigger tires, lift kit, etc). If the dealer says they don't have the means to diag it you may want a second opinion from another dealer. Shouldn't be that hard to find.

The truck was not test driven at highway speeds (inner city dealer) & vibration is not constant. Have been told by Dodge they have NO diagnostic equipment or process to diagnois this problem in the field. NO mods have been done to the truck or altered in any way. Vibration started on the way home from dealer. Was told by 2 tire shops that it has a BAD tire(s) but neither Dodge or General tires will do ANYTHING about it. I guess it's cheaper to Buy back a $50,000+ dollar truck than fix it?? A warranty is only as good as the company behind it & Dodge, the NEW RAM brand & General tires have proven to be worthless!!

It sucks Dodge won't stand behind their truck but throwing a tantrum and parking it doesn't help you. Garbage OEM tires aren't worth 100 a piece anyway, just buy a new set and put the old ones on Craigslist. With 1700 miles they'll sell.

A tantrum?? This truck has had differant tires installed & the vibration & OSCILATION are still there. This truck wants to swap ends at 70 mph on the highway so parking it IS the best bet for me. Rolling a truck is not my idea of fun.

An interesting thing about jet propulsion is that hp delivered to the vehicle is proportional to vehicle speed. Imagine trying to drive your bicycle with a 100% efficient fan. That's why aircraft ton*miles/gallon is only about 5 whereas diesel electric trains are up around 800.

@ UNDER-PRESSURE I'm a tech for a Dodge dealer and I'd like to help. Has your dealer been able to duplicate the problem? You said that 2 tire shops said the tires were at fault. Then you said that the tires have been replaced. Please clarify. If new tires didn't fix the problem then tires are not the problem and any half decent tire shop should have detected a bent rim if there was one. Solid axle vehicles can suffer from what we call "death wobble" when driving at highway speed and a large bump is hit the front of the truck shakes violently untill speed is reduced. The more accurate info you can tell the better.

This does not have the typical death wobble from the front & the dealers are well aware of the problem. This wobble seems to start from the rear of the truck?? Leaf springs, suspension, binding shocks?? Highway speed, slight turn, bump, etc.. It "ALSO" has a bad vibration from the tires. Swaped a 40,000 mile set (wheels & tires) off another truck to try & it was MUCH better. The BAD tires were identified but NOBODY wants to man up. Oscilation was still present but the ride was MUCH improved with trial wheels & tires. Thanks for your time & help!!

@ UNDER PRESSURE I just checked with some sources. There is a new TSB that sounds familiar to the problem your experiencing. # 22-001-11. Have your dealer follow the procedure and see what happens. Hope this helps. Let me know of the outcome when you can.

Thank you for the TSB tip & your time!! What is the complaint behind the TSB?? I will keep you updated. :)

@ UNDER PRESSURE Sorry, thought I put that in there. It relates to excessive vibration at highway speed. I'll keep checking this thread till I hear back from you.

@Jordan L: Thanks for helping Under Pressure out!

now thats the beauty of this site..truck guys are for the most part a cool breed..good lookin J.L.

Oh yeah? But can it crush cars?

I'm calling Pratt & Whitney today. My old F-150 needs a new power plant. I reckon one will do. I tried to get a crate Saturn V F-1 main engine but I was told they are not longer made :(

Nice comparison! The Chrysler or Dodge vehicles don't last either!

@Jordan L
UPDATE: Approached dealer with this TSB on 1/24/11 that certainly applies to my truck & dealer refuses to do ANYTHING about it. States there tire machine checks for road force variances & that was done when they rebalanced tires. Asked why truck still shakes, vibrates & oscilates & was told he was still waiting on info from the zone rep. NEW Truck is still abandoned in driveway at this point. WHY is there such terrible communication between the New RAM brand, dealers, reps & customers?? This is INSANE. I spoon feed the dealer a TSB to get slapped in the face. Other New RAM owners are having problems with tie rods breaking & loosing steering to get the same BS from the RAM brand. FACEBOOK seems to be the only way to get there attention. RAM seems to be more concerened with there NEW image than customers safety. It's sad but TRUE!!

The DELTA IV Heavy costs $400M to launch not $100M

The Delta IV's engine (RS-68) does burn liquid oxygen (LOX) and liquid Hydrogen (LH2), which have water vapor as a byproduct but......

Look at other LOX/LH2 engines like the Space Shuttle Main Engine (SSME) and the upper stage engines from the Saturn V (J2). The exhuast plume is blue or even invisible from certain angles.

Then why is the plume from the Delta IV's RS-68 orange? Isn't this just water vapor like the Space Shuttle Main Engine?

Orange/red plumes are from hydrocarbon engines burning Jet fuel (rocket grade) and LOX. The Delta IV's RS-68 has a special coating in the inside of it's nozzle that literally chars/burns away to get rid of heat (ablative) so that the nozzle does not melt.

The burned debris from this coating is why the Delta IV's water vapor exhuast is not blue. So the Delta IV's exhaust is NOT just water vapor.

The previously mentioned LH2 engines (SSME and J2) have a much more complicated engine nozzle that cools itself (regeneratively cooled tube bundle nozzle). These engines are the ones with just water vapor for exhaust.

@ UNDER PRESSURE There are 2 parts two the TSB. The first is to get the tires balanced, which you did. The second is to replace the steering wheel if the tire rebalance did not help. Not sure why the wheel would need replacing or help for that matter but thats what it calls for. If that doesn't fix the problem then there is something else at fault. If the dealer had followed the procedure there should be a new steering wheel on order for you. One thing I would suggest is having the tires double checked for proper balance. I experience a set of bad tires on my own vehicle once. Belts would shift when driving at highway speed. It would take 5 minuets of driving to unbalance the tires. In my experience dealer reps usually communicate by e-mail which slows the process down. You may want to check your owners manual or phone the dealer and get a number to contact Chrysler head office. Let them know of the problems you have been having not only with the truck but the dealer as well. Name names of employees if you have to. I'll check back later for a reponse.

It should be noted that the 0 to 60 mph times aren't quite apples-to-apples: The Delta IV has to go straight up. Try putting it on wheels and see how that comparison comes out. (=

@Jordan L
First off thank you again for your time & help. Dealer has agreed to look at truck again on 1/28/11 to recheck & rebalance tires. I've been contacted by RAM & assigned a Case Manager & case #. Hopefully something positive can come out of all this. I will post here with updates as they come in & the outcome of fridays dealer visit.

@ under pressure Good to hear. I'll keep checking back.

I can't believe I came across this comment section while researching about the 2010 / 2011 3500 Ram. I have test driven 2 different trucks not at highway speed and I am buying one within the next 2 weeks. Is your truck 2wd or 4wd, 2door, crew, or megacab? Please keep posting results if the dealer finds the problem.

@Jordan L
Dealer rechecked all tires & states they were all within specs. Also performed 23 point safety inspection with NO problems found. I have NO clue what i'm supposed to do now?? Ever get the feeling you have reached the end of the plank & your about to fall in.

2010 Dodge 3500 4x4 Dually, 4dr Crew Cab Laramie.

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