ULA aiming to debut new Vulcan rocket on Christmas Eve

ULA's Vulcan Certification-1 (Cert-1) rocket is located atop Space Launch Complex-41 in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
ULA’s Vulcan Certification-1 (Cert-1) rocket is located atop Space Launch Complex-41 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. yula

SpaceX grabs all the headlines when it comes to rockets, but United Launch Alliance (ULA) has been in the game for almost as long (it was formed in 2006, four years after SpaceX), sending satellites into orbit Is. Customers in national security, civilian and commercial markets.

This week it offered an update on the Vulcan Centaur, the successor to its Atlas V and Delta IV rockets. Vulcan’s first flight – called Cert-1 (short for Certification-1) – is currently scheduled to launch Astrobotic Technology’s Peregrine lander to the lunar surface on December 24 from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

ULA said Monday that the Vulcan rocket is beginning final processing activities ahead of its inaugural launch on Christmas Eve. These include a wet dress rehearsal where the rocket’s launch systems and procedures are put through their paces, spacecraft integration and then final processing in preparation for launch.

“This launch marks the beginning of a new era for ULA and the country,” ULA President and CEO Tory Bruno said in a message released Monday. “Vulcan meets all the challenging orbital requirements required by U.S. national defense and provides a scalable system for all missions while delivering unmatched reliability and orbital precision.”

Vulcan’s core stage is powered by two BE-4 engines built by Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, a company also known for its short tourist rides to the edge of space and which plans to launch future crew and cargo missions to the Moon. Developing a lander.

Assuming the Cert-1 mission goes as planned, ULA plans to send Vulcan back into orbit in the Cert-2 mission in early 2024.

Space flight companies are developing new rockets all the time. France-based Arianespace, for example, is preparing the Ariane 6 for its first flight next year, while New Zealand firm Rocket Lab is working on a Neutron rocket that could one day carry human crews. And then there’s SpaceX, which is hoping to send its powerful Super Heavy rocket and the Starship rocket — known collectively as Starship — on its second test flight in the coming months after a failed flight in April .

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