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Author Topic:   United Launch Alliance's Vulcan Centaur
Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
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posted 04-13-2015 03:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
United Launch Alliance (ULA) release
United Launch Alliance Unveils America's New Rocket: Vulcan

Innovative Next Generation Launch System will Provide Country's Most Reliable, Affordable and Accessible Launch Service

United Launch Alliance (ULA) unveiled its Next Generation Launch System (NGLS) today at the 31st Space Symposium. The new rocket, Vulcan, will transform the future of space by making launch services more affordable and accessible. The NGLS brings together decades of experience on ULA's reliable Atlas and Delta vehicles, combining the best features of each to produce an all-new, American-made rocket that will enable mission success from low Earth orbit all the way to Pluto.

"More capabilities in space mean more capabilities here on earth," said Tory Bruno, president and CEO of United Launch Alliance. "Because the Next Generation Launch System will be the highest-performing, most cost-efficient rocket on the market, it will open up new opportunities for the nation's use of space. Whether it is scientific missions, medical advancements, national security or new economic opportunities for businesses, ULA's new Vulcan rocket is a game-changer in terms of creating endless possibilities in space."

To help give all Americans a chance to play a role in the future of space, last month ULA launched an online naming competition that allowed Americans to vote on their favorite name for the NGLS. More than one million votes were cast, and Vulcan was the top choice.

"As the company currently responsible for more than 70 percent of the nation's space launches, it is only fitting that America got to name the country's rocket of the future," added Bruno.

By streamlining the processes and rocket design, and developing a new all-American engine, ULA will continue to be the country's most innovative, cost-efficient and technically rigorous launch company, providing a wide range of services to a broad customer base – including the most critical U.S. government missions.

"ULA's precision and focus makes the remarkable seem routine. Our track record of 95 successful launches in less than nine years – an average of one launch per month – is unmatched in the industry. Our ability to deliver critical national security, scientific and commercial satellites into the correct orbit every time is filled with risks and challenges, and ULA has delivered every time. ULA's reliability is and will continue to be part of the mission," Tory Bruno concluded.

At today's news announcement, Bruno also unveiled the Sensible, Modular, Autonomous Return Technology (SMART) initiative, which will be introduced into NGLS and allow ULA to reuse the most expensive portion of the first stage – the booster main engines – via mid-air capture. This allows a controlled recovery environment providing the confidence needed to re-fly the hardware.

Step one of NGLS will consist of a single booster stage, the high-energy Centaur second stage and either a 4- or 5-meter-diameter payload fairing. Up to four solid rocket boosters (SRB) augment the lift off power of the 4-meter configuration, while up to six SRBs can be added to the 5-meter version.

In step two, the Centaur second stage will be replaced by the more powerful, innovative Advanced Cryogenic Evolved Stage (ACES), making the NGLS capability that of today's Delta IV Heavy rocket. ACES can execute almost unlimited burns, extending on-orbit operating time from hours to weeks.

Last year, ULA announced that it had partnered with Blue Origin, LLC, a privately funded aerospace company owned by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, to provide a cutting-edge engine for the NGLS while also providing a viable alternative to the Russian-made RD-180. This collaboration to fund the development of a new, U.S.-made BE-4 rocket engine, is part of the cost-reduction innovation for our customers. The BE-4 is designed for low recurring cost and will meet commercial and NASA requirements as well as those of the U.S. Air Force's Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program. The BE-4 uses low-cost liquid natural gas fuel and is designed for reuse.

With more than a century of combined heritage, United Launch Alliance is the nation's most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 90 satellites to orbit that provide critical capabilities for troops in the field, aid meteorologists in tracking severe weather, enable personal device-based GPS navigation and unlock the mysteries of our solar system.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-13-2015 07:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
collectSPACE
'Behold the powerful Vulcan': ULA reveals new rocket system, name

United Launch Alliance, the U.S. company behind the Atlas and Delta family of rockets, has unveiled Vulcan, its next generation launch system.

The new Vulcan rocket, which got its name through a poll that attracted more than a million votes, incorporates new engines, a reuse approach that features a mid-air recovery and a new upper stage aimed at enabling complex on-orbit operations.

"[Vulcan is] going to take the best parts of Delta and Atlas and combine them with new and advanced technology to provide a rocket that is not just as reliable and certain as Atlas has been, but also much more powerful, with higher performance, greater flexibility and [is] significantly more affordable," Tory Bruno, United Launch Alliance CEO, said in a press conference held Monday (April 13) at the Space Symposium in Colorado.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-24-2016 11:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
United Launch Alliance (ULA) release
United Launch Alliance Completes Preliminary Design Review for Next-Generation Vulcan Centaur Rocket

United Launch Alliance (ULA) successfully completed the Preliminary Design Review (PDR) for the Vulcan Centaur launch vehicle with dual Blue Origin BE-4 engines. The PDR, a major milestone in development of the Vulcan launch vehicle, confirms that the design meets the requirements for the diverse set of missions it will support. The ULA team will build upon this milestone to refine and test key elements of the design while executing a busy manifest of 14 launches in 2016.

"The completion of the Vulcan Centaur rocket's PDR is the first of several major and very exciting milestones in the launch vehicle's development," said Tory Bruno, ULA president and chief executive officer. "We have a strong path to get to a 2019 flight test of this new, highly-capable American launch vehicle."

The Vulcan Centaur rocket design leverages the proven success of the Delta IV and Atlas V launch vehicles while introducing new technologies and innovative features which will ensure a reliable and affordable space launch service along with engines developed and manufactured in the United States. The Vulcan Centaur provides a path to replacement of the current fleet of Delta IV and Atlas V vehicles and will service a diverse range of markets including commercial, civil and national security space customers.

"Vulcan Centaur will revolutionize spaceflight and provide affordable, reliable access to space with an American main engine," said Mark Peller, ULA's program manager for major development.

In addition to the Blue Origin BE-4 engine, Aerojet Rocketdyne is developing the AR1 engine which could power the Vulcan Centaur. Such strategic partnerships for American main engines, Orbital ATK for the solid rocket boosters and RUAG Space for domestically-produced composite structures enable collaborative development of Vulcan maximizing the value of this new launch capability.

With more than a century of combined heritage, United Launch Alliance is the nation's most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 100 satellites to orbit that provide critical capabilities for troops in the field, aid meteorologists in tracking severe weather, enable personal device-based GPS navigation and unlock the mysteries of our solar system.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 49860
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 05-11-2018 11:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
United Launch Alliance (ULA) release
United Launch Alliance Selects Aerojet Rocketdyne's RL10 Engine for Next-generation Vulcan Centaur Upper Stage

United Launch Alliance (ULA) today announced Aerojet Rocketdyne as a strategic partner for the RL10 upper stage engine for ULA's next-generation Vulcan Centaur rocket following a competitive procurement process.

"ULA and Aerojet Rocketdyne have a long and successful history together that began with the first flight of our Atlas and Delta rockets in the 1960s," said Tory Bruno, ULA president and CEO. "We could not be more pleased to have selected the proven and reliable RL10 to power our Vulcan Centaur upper stage."

This partnership is a long-term agreement for Aerojet Rocketdyne to provide upper stage propulsion for the next decade. As part of this partnership, Aerojet Rocketdyne will provide RL10s and develop the RL10C-X, the next generation of the RL10 family. The RL10C-X will increase the use of additive manufacturing and introduce other advanced technologies to improve the quality, reliability, affordability and performance.

"Key determining factors to our selection included price and delivery schedule," said Bruno. "We look forward to continuing our strong partnership to ensure a successful introduction of Vulcan Centaur."

Over the course of nearly 60 years, more than 450 RL10 engines have flown on various ULA heritage vehicles with an unmatched record of mission success.

ULA continues its competitive procurement process for the booster engine and plans to make a down select soon.

With more than a century of combined heritage, United Launch Alliance is the nation's most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 125 satellites to orbit that provide critical capabilities for troops in the field, aid meteorologists in tracking severe weather, enable personal device-based GPS navigation and unlock the mysteries of our solar system.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 49860
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 09-27-2018 05:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
United Launch Alliance release
United Launch Alliance Building Rocket of the Future with Industry-Leading Strategic Partnerships

ULA Selects Blue Origin Advanced Booster Engine for Vulcan Centaur Rocket System

United Launch Alliance's (ULA) next-generation rocket - the Vulcan Centaur - is making strong progress in development and is on track for its initial flight in mid-2020. The Vulcan Centaur rocket design leverages the proven success of the Delta IV and Atlas V launch vehicles while introducing advanced technologies and innovative features.

"Vulcan Centaur will revolutionize spaceflight and provide affordable, reliable access to space for our current and future customers," said Tory Bruno, ULA's president and CEO. "We are well on our way to the introduction of Vulcan Centaur – the future of U.S. rocket manufacturing. With state-of-the-art engineering and manufacturing techniques, this rocket is designed specifically for low recurring cost."

The new rocket design is nearing completion, and the booster preliminary design and critical design reviews have been completed. Vulcan Centaur will have a maximum liftoff thrust of 3.8 million pounds and carry 56,000 pounds to low Earth orbit, 33,000 pounds to a geo-transfer orbit and 16,000 pounds to geostationary orbit with greater capability than any currently available single-core launch vehicle.

"Our new rocket will be superior in reliability, cost and capability – one system for all missions," said Bruno. "We have been working closely with the U.S. Air Force, and our certification plan is in place."

Following completion of a competitive procurement, ULA has selected Blue Origin's BE-4 engine for Vulcan Centaur's booster stage. The liquefied natural gas (LNG) fueled booster will be powered by a pair of BE-4 engines, each producing 550,000 pounds of sea level thrust. As previously announced, ULA has selected Aerojet Rocketdyne's RL10 engine for the Centaur upper stage, Northrop Grumman solid rocket boosters, L‑3 Avionics Systems avionics, and RUAG's payload fairings and composite structures for the new Vulcan Centaur rocket system.

"We are pleased to enter into this partnership with Blue Origin and look forward to a successful first flight of our next-generation launch vehicle," said Bruno.

"We are very glad to have our BE-4 engine selected by United Launch Alliance. United Launch Alliance is the premier launch service provider for national security missions, and we're thrilled to be part of their team and that mission," said Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith. "We can't thank Tory Bruno and the entire United Launch Alliance team enough for entrusting our engine to powering the Vulcan rocket's first stage."

Vulcan Centaur will bolster U.S. manufacturing by adding to the more than 22,000 direct and indirect American jobs in 46 states supported by ULA programs.

"ULA has chosen the best systems available to create the Vulcan Centaur," said Bruno. "These engines and components will ensure ULA continues to lead the way in space exploration, maintain our record of success and remain America's launch vehicle for our nation's most vital missions."

Vulcan Centaur is ULA's next-generation, American rocket system. As a result of these agreements, the Vulcan Centaur will surpass current rocket capabilities and launch services at significantly lower costs, while still meeting the requirements of ULA's cooperative research and development agreement with the U.S. Air Force to certify the Vulcan Centaur for national security space missions.

"Strong partners are critical to the cutting-edge innovation that is leading us into the next generation in space and ensuring mission success," said Bruno. "Partnerships with Blue Origin, Aerojet Rocketdyne, Northrop Grumman, L-3 Avionics Systems and RUAG will allow the Vulcan Centaur to transform the future of space launch for the government and commercial markets, making launch more affordable, accessible and commercially available."

With more than a century of combined heritage, ULA is the world's most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered 130 satellites to orbit that provide Earth observation capabilities, enable global communications, unlock the mysteries of our solar system, and support life-saving technology.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

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From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 04-08-2019 05:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
United Launch Alliance release
United Launch Alliance Progresses Towards Purpose-Built Vulcan Centaur For National Security Space Missions

First Flight Hardware Being Manufactured and Launch on Track for 2021

Today, United Launch Alliance (ULA) CEO Tory Bruno gave an update on the continued progress of the Vulcan Centaur during a ULA media event at the 35th Space Symposium.

"As the nation faces growing threats in the space environment, ULA is unleashing the energy of American ingenuity by developing the Vulcan Centaur," said Bruno. "Purpose built to meet our nation's needs for expanding space missions, the Vulcan Centaur's innovative technology is transforming the future of launch and will advance America's superiority in space."

ULA's Atlas and Delta rockets have been the backbone of American space launch for decades. Building on a progressive history of technology development and advancement, the Vulcan Centaur will advance this rich heritage.

"Manufacturing of Vulcan Centaur pathfinder and qualification hardware in the factory has been going on for nearly a year and just a few weeks ago, the team began to manufacture the first flight hardware," said Bruno. "It is a tremendously exciting time as we watch the first flight vehicle being built."

Panelists from key ULA suppliers including Aerojet Rocketdyne, Blue Origin, Dynetics, L3 Technologies, Northrop Grumman and RUAG discussed their timeline, components, state-of-the-art technology and manufacturing techniques as they move forward building and testing hardware in advance of the Vulcan Centaur's first flight in 2021.

"The strong team behind the Vulcan Centaur, including ULA's supplier base, is proud to be building a rocket to launch critical American defense assets. Vulcan Centaur will provide higher performance and greater affordability while also continuing to deliver our unmatched reliability and precision," said Bruno.

ULA is the nation's only full-range launch provider and is significantly investing in and modernizing the factory in Decatur, Ala., and upgrading launch facilities to be more capable and flexible.

"When designing Vulcan Centaur, we took the best of Atlas and Delta and carried that over to our new rocket," said Bruno. "In addition, many of Vulcan Centaur's major components will be flown first on Atlas V missions such as the solid rocket boosters, avionics, software, upper-stage engine and payload fairings, lowering the risk of the first flight."

Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 49860
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 05-20-2019 03:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
United Launch Alliance (ULA) release
ULA Completes Final Design Review for New Vulcan Centaur Rocket

First Flight on Schedule for 2021

United Launch Alliance leaders and engineers completed an important milestone with the conclusion of the system Critical Design Review (CDR) for the company's new Vulcan Centaur rocket. The system-level CDR is the final review of the design for the overall rocket.

"This is a tremendous accomplishment for the ULA team and a significant milestone in the development of a rocket – signaling the completion of the design phase and start of formal qualification," said Tory Bruno, ULA's president and CEO. "Vulcan Centaur is purpose built to meet all of the requirements of our nation's space launch needs and its flight-proven design will transform the future of space launch and advance America's superiority in space."

The system CDR was a week-long detailed review of the entire Vulcan Centaur system with the primary focus to verify all of the elements will work properly together as a system. As part of the certification process with the U.S. Air Force, Air Force representatives are included as part of the design review.

"ULA's Atlas and Delta rockets have served as the backbone for American space launch for decades and our next-generation rocket will advance this rich heritage," said Bruno. "Vulcan Centaur will provide higher performance and greater affordability while continuing to deliver our unmatched reliability and precision."

When the first Vulcan Centaur rocket flies in less than two years, a high percentage of the rocket will have flown before on ULA's Atlas launch vehicle including the fairing, upper stage engines in a dual configuration, avionics, software and solid rocket motors.

"Vulcan Centaur brings together the best of Atlas and Delta technology, and we are flying all of the major components that we can on Atlas V first to reduce the risk for our customers on the first flight," said Bruno.

ULA and its suppliers have invested in and modernized the factory in Decatur, Alabama, bringing in state-of-the art manufacturing technologies. Flight hardware is already being built for the first flight, and the production is on schedule for the initial launch in 2021.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 49860
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 10-30-2019 10:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
United Launch Alliance (ULA) release
Construction milestone achieved for Vulcan's launch platform

In a topping out ceremony that honored traditions in construction, the final beam has been hoisted atop the new Mobile Launch Platform (MLP) from which the next-generation Vulcan Centaur rockets will lift off.

"We are excited to complete another milestone for the Vulcan Centaur program," said John Elbon, ULA's chief operating officer. "This rocket will allow us to increase efficiency and lower costs, without sacrificing the reliability customers has come to depend on."

Today's (Oct. 24) event at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida included dignitaries from ULA, the Air Force's 45th Space Wing, Space Florida and Hensel Phelps, the primary contractor for the Vulcan MLP construction and pad modifications.

The MLP was manufactured in segments off-site by Sauer Inc. and then shipped from nearby Oak Hill, Florida, to the launch base for assembly inside the SPOC, a legacy facility officially renamed today as the Spaceflight Processing Operations Center.

This dedicated MLP is similar to the Atlas V's platform, but is built to support the much larger size of Vulcan. The Atlas V first stage is 12.5 feet diameter and Vulcan is 17.7 feet wide.

The structure stands 183 feet tall. It will soon be outfitted with the equipment and umbilicals needed to supply Vulcan Centaur with liquefied natural gas (LNG) propellant and liquid oxygen to the first stage, liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen to the Centaur upper stage, conditioned air to the payload fairing and rocket compartments, electronics, power lines and command-and-control cabling. When complete, the platform will weigh 1.3 million pounds.

As part of the topping off ceremony, a plaque was presented to Frank DiBello, president and CEO of Space Florida, from Mark Peller, ULA's vice president of major development. The plaque will be permanently placed on the MLP to commemorate the partnership between Space Florida and ULA to fund the MLP construction.

Today's milestone keeps Vulcan Centaur on course for its maiden flight in 2021. The new rocket is purpose-built to perform the full spectrum of national security space missions, delivering any payload to any orbit at any time.

Vulcan will be more than 200 feet tall and deliver as much as 3.8 million pounds of thrust from its two BE-4 main engines and up to six side-mounted GEM63XL solid rocket boosters. That performance enables a single-core Vulcan Centaur to launch the largest payloads that have required the three-core Delta IV Heavy to carry them into space.

Seven launches of the next-generation rocket have already been sold, including the inaugural flight that will send Astrobotic's Peregrine commercial lunar lander to the Moon. Subsequent missions will carry Sierra Nevada Corporation's Dream Chaser spacecraft for roundtrip voyages the International Space Station.

"ULA has dramatically lowered the price of launch with the Vulcan Centaur by establishing long-term strategic partnerships throughout the supply chain, reducing costs while stabilizing the industrial base," Peller said.

The SPOC was originally called the SMARF during its support of the Air Force's Titan IVB rocket program as the Solid Motor Assembly and Readiness Facility. The building now has been repurposed to construct the Vulcan MLP and also serve as a storage location for either the Atlas V or Vulcan platform depending on whichever one is not in use at the VIF.

Rail tracks connect the SPOC to the Vertical Integration Facility where Vulcan stages, solid rocket boosters and the payload will be stacked atop the MLP before rollout to the Space Launch Complex-41 (SLC-41) pad for fueling and launch.

The historic SLC-41 is currently undergoing a transformation into a dual-use pad that will seamlessly handle both Atlas V and Vulcan Centaur rockets simultaneously.

The two rockets are distinctly different -- from their size to the fuel they use and the main engines that power them skyward. Those major contrasts in characteristics make SLC-41 the first launch pad in the world to serve two entirely separate rocket families at the same time.

The pad modifications include installation of the LNG storage area, expanded infrastructure to hold the liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen for the larger Centaur and an improved Acoustic Suppression Water System (ASWS).

And alterations in the VIF have replaced access platforms that surround the rocket with reconfigurable planks that can conform to either Atlas or the larger Vulcan.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 49860
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 08-13-2020 06:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Northrop Grumman release
Northrop Grumman Successfully Completes First Qualification Test of New Rocket Motor for United Launch Alliance

Northrop Grumman Corporation conducted its first ground test of an extended length 63-inch-diameter Graphite Epoxy Motor (GEM 63XL) today in Promontory, Utah. This variation of the company's GEM 63 strap-on booster was developed in partnership with United Launch Alliance (ULA) to provide additional lift capability to the Vulcan Centaur vehicle.

"Our new GEM 63XL motors leverage its flight-proven heritage while utilizing state-of-the-art manufacturing technology to enhance launch vehicle heavy-lift capabilities," said Charlie Precourt, vice president, propulsion systems, Northrop Grumman. "The GEM 63XL increases thrust and performance by 15-20 percent compared to a standard GEM 63."

During today's static test, the motor fired for approximately 90 seconds, producing nearly 449,000 pounds of thrust to qualify the motor's internal insulation, propellant grain, ballistics and nozzle in a cold-conditioned environment. This test demonstrated materials and technologies similar to the GEM 63 rocket motor that qualified for flight in October 2019.

Northrop Grumman has supplied rocket propulsion to ULA and its heritage companies for a variety of launch vehicles since 1964. The GEM family of strap-on motors was developed starting in the early 1980s with the GEM 40 to support the Delta II launch vehicle. The company then followed with the GEM 46 for the Delta II Heavy, and the GEM 60, which flew 86 motors over 26 Delta IV launches before retiring in 2019 with 100 percent success. The first flight of the GEM 63 motors will be on a ULA Atlas V launch vehicle planned for fourth quarter 2020, and GEM 63XL motors will support the Vulcan rocket in 2021.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-21-2021 04:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Northrop Grumman release
Northrop Grumman Successfully Completes Validation Test of New Rocket Motor for United Launch Alliance

GEM 63XL rocket motors will help launch ULA's Vulcan Centaur rocket

Northrop Grumman Corporation conducted a validation ground test of an extended length 63-inch-diameter Graphite Epoxy Motor (GEM 63XL) today (Jan. 21) in Promontory. This variation of the company's GEM 63 strap-on booster was developed in partnership with United Launch Alliance (ULA) to provide additional lift capability to the Vulcan Centaur rocket.

Above: Northrop Grumman conducted a validation test of its GEM 63XL rocket motor on Jan. 21 at its Promontory, Utah, facility. The GEM 63XL will support the United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan Centaur launch vehicle.

"This new motor optimizes our best-in-class technologies and leverages flight-proven solid rocket propulsion designs to provide our customers with the most reliable product," said Charlie Precourt, vice president, propulsion systems, Northrop Grumman. "Evolving the original GEM 63 design utilizes our decades of GEM strap-on booster expertise while enhancing capabilities for heavy-lift missions."

During today's static test, the motor fired for approximately 90 seconds, producing nearly 449,000 pounds of thrust to validate the performance capability of the motor design. Additionally, this firing verified the motor's internal insulation, propellant grain, ballistics and nozzle in a hot-conditioned environment.

Northrop Grumman has supplied rocket propulsion to ULA and its heritage companies for a variety of launch vehicles since 1964. The GEM family of strap-on motors was developed starting in the early 1980s with the GEM 40 to support the Delta II launch vehicle. The company then followed with the GEM 46 for the Delta II Heavy, and the GEM 60, which flew 86 motors over 26 Delta IV launches before retiring in 2019. The first GEM 63 motors supported ULA's Atlas V rocket in November 2020.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 49860
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-30-2021 01:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
United Launch Alliance (ULA) release
Vulcan Centaur: Launch platform rolls to pad for first time

Signaling a major milestone in the countdown to Vulcan Centaur, the newly assembled launch platform for our next-generation rocket made its first trek to the launch pad today (Jan. 29) to undergo ground system testing.

Above: The VLP emerges from the SPOC for rollout to Space Launch Complex-41.

The rollout saw the Vulcan Launch Platform (VLP) emerge from the Spaceflight Processing Operations Center (SPOC) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and travel along 2.7 miles (4.3 km) of rail tracks to reach the pad at Space Launch Complex (SLC)-41.

VLP weighs a hefty 1.3 million pounds (589,670 kg) and stands 183 feet (56 meters) tall. It will support the Vulcan Centaur as the stages and payload are stacked at the Vertical Integration Facility (VIF) and then carry the rocket to the pad for fueling and launch.

The platform was constructed last year in the SPOC, and the intervening months were spent outfitting the structure with command and data cabling, internal plumbing for propellants, pressurants and purges, and hardware that will interface with future Vulcan Centaur rockets.

Although it may look nearly identical to the Mobile Launch Platform (MLP) used by the Atlas V rocket, the VLP was built specifically to accommodate Vulcan Centaur's much larger diameter and its different fuel. The Atlas V first stage is 12.5 feet (3.8 m) in diameter and consumes RP-1 kerosene, while Vulcan Centaur is 17.7 feet (5.4 m) wide and burns liquefied natural gas (LNG).

The two platforms will share the VIF and launch pad for Atlas V and Vulcan Centaur missions. Whichever platform is not in use at the time will be stored in the SPOC.

Above: The VLP stands atop Space Launch Complex-41 for the first time.

Friday's rollout utilized the same undercarriage railcars and trackmobiles that are used for Atlas V. The transport system hydraulically lifted the VLP from its SPOC piers, pushed the VLP all the way to the pad and then lowered the structure onto the piers there. That accomplished the key alignment and fit check objectives.

The convoy was led by the Vulcan-specific box cars that will contain rocket and payload support electronics. Bringing up the rear were portable environmental control system (PECS) trailers that provides conditioned air to rockets and payloads during rollouts. The trailers serve that purpose for Atlas V and will also be needed to support Vulcan Centaur.

While VLP is on the pad, technicians will test the functionality of the new platform and its compatibility with pad systems, including ground support equipment for electrical, pneumatic and propellant systems, as well as commanding and environmental control.

In preparation for Vulcan Centaur's inaugural launch, a pathfinder rocket will use VLP for fueling tests at the pad later this year. The first flight article Vulcan Centaur will then take its place aboard the VLP to launch Astrobotic's Peregrine commercial lunar lander to the moon.

Robert Pearlman
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United Launch Alliance (ULA) release
Vulcan Centaur: Cape Canaveral welcomes pathfinder rocket

A pathfinder first stage that will pave the way for Vulcan Centaur's inaugural launch has arrived at Cape Canaveral, Florida, from ULA's factory in Decatur, Alabama, to begin launch site testing of the next-generation rocket.

Above: The Vulcan Centaur booster emerges from the RocketShip at Port Canaveral for launch site testing.

The Pathfinding Tanking Test (PTT) booster, a flight configuration Vulcan Centaur core fitted with a pair of BE-4 development engines, was produced using the advanced automation and tooling in Decatur that is designed for maximum efficiency and reliability.

After completing integration, testing, and checkout at the factory, the 17.7-foot-diameter, 110-foot-long (5.4-meter-diameter, 33.5-meter-long) rocket was loaded inside ULA's R/S RocketShip vessel and shipped to the Port Canaveral Poseidon wharf. The 2,000-mile trek began Feb. 4 and RocketShip arrived the evening of Feb. 12.

The stage will be used as a pathfinder and undergo testing at the Vertical Integration Facility (VIF), the new Spaceflight Processing Operations Center (SPOC) and the Space Launch Complex (SLC)-41 pad to prepare for future operational Vulcan Centaur launch campaigns.

The pathfinding familiarizes the ground crew and the launch team with the advanced rocket, getting them accustomed to the enhanced techniques for pre-flight processing and running the countdown to configure a Vulcan Centaur for flight.

Above: Vulcan Centaur hardware was delivered to Cape Canaveral Space Force Station by the RocketShip.

The first exercise, known as Launch Vehicle on Stand (LVOS), will see the rocket delivered to the VIF and hoisted upright onto the Vulcan Launch Platform (VLP). This operation tests the hardware, procedures and clearances for maneuvering the massive stage into the VIF.

Later, the VLP will move the PTT booster to the pad for the first tanking tests in which liquefied natural gas and liquid oxygen are transferred into the booster. The milestone will demonstrate the extensive modifications performed to transform SLC-41 into a simultaneous dual-use site for both Atlas V and Vulcan Centaur.

Lessons learned from the first tanking test will be applied to a subsequent rehearsal to further refine countdown timelines and hardware settings.

Once satisfied with the PTT test campaign, the stage will be removed from the VLP to make way for stacking of the first flight article Vulcan Centaur rocket destined to perform the inaugural launch.

PTT is a flightworthy booster that will fly to space in support of a future mission. Its development BE-4s, which were extensively hot fired, will be swapped out with flight engines prior to launch.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 49860
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 02-22-2021 12:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
United Launch Alliance (ULA) release
Vulcan Centaur: Pathfinder goes vertical for next testing phase

A pathfinder of the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Vulcan Centaur, the new all-American rocket designed to meet the needs of U.S. national security space launches, now stands assembled for major launch pad testing.

Above: The Pathfinder Tanking Test (PTT) booster is hoisted onto the Vulcan Launch Platform (VLP).

At ULA's Vertical Integration Facility (VIF) on Monday, Feb. 15, the Vulcan Centaur program achieved a significant milestone when the Pathfinder Tanking Test (PTT) booster was hoisted into place aboard the Vulcan Launch Platform (VLP). PTT is a flight configuration core stage that will complete validations of the launch site and later be used on a Vulcan Centaur launch into space.

Using processes and procedures evolved from time-proven Atlas V operations, Monday's activities were known as Launch Vehicle on Stand (LVOS). Technicians attached lifting cranes to position the PTT stage aboard a special handling fixture used to pivot rockets from horizontal to vertical. Slowly hoisting the forward end of the rocket upward by the VIF's overhead crane, the booster was rotated upright and ready to be raised through the VIF doorway and anchored to its VLP.

Measuring 17.7 feet in diameter and 110 feet in length (5.4-meter-diameter, 33.5-meter-long), the rocket is the largest stage ever moved in the VIF, well exceeding Atlas V stages that have used the assembly building for nearly 20 years.

Ground teams completed the build up of the pathfinder vehicle on Thursday, Feb. 18 by hoisting the 10-foot-long (3-meter) Interstage Adapter (ISA) and a protective top cover onto the stage. This configuration will support the pathfinder as it progresses through testing.

Above: The VLP with the PTT pathfinder leaves the Vertical Integration Facility (VIF).

On Monday, Feb. 22, the VLP transported the booster along the rail tracks that connect the VIF to the Spaceflight Operations Center (SPOC) located about two miles away. This relocation of the pathfinder allows extended first article testing to continue in the SPOC while the VIF supports the Atlas V launch manifest.

The renamed SPOC, originally a heritage Titan IVB rocket facility constructed in the 1990s, has been renovated to support the Vulcan Centaur program as an auxiliary vertical processing facility and storage bay at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

The pathfinder booster will be used for fit checks of the SPOC and its newly fashioned access platforms, plus evaluations of ground support systems in the facility. Later, functional testing of the rocket will be performed to ensure readiness to undergo rehearsals and the first fuel-loading exercises at the Space Launch Complex-41 pad this spring.

Vulcan Centaur combines the best of today's Atlas V and Delta IV rocket families with the latest technology advancements. The result is a single launch system that provides higher performance and greater affordability while continuing to deliver our unmatched reliability and precision.

Above: The VLP with the PTT booster nears the SPOC.

The innovative technology within Vulcan Centaur transforms the future of launch by meeting the challenging requirements now demanded by U.S. national security space launch and its expanding spectrum of missions that are essential to the country's defense. Satisfying those specifications means Vulcan Centaur is well suited for commercial and civil markets, including launching dual-manifested payloads and missions across the solar system.

The next-generation rocket already has a healthy backlog of nearly 30 launches booked, starting with the inaugural mission later this year to launch Astrobotic's Peregrine commercial lunar lander to the moon.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

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From: Houston, TX
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posted 04-16-2021 01:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
NASA Adds Vulcan Centaur Launch Services to Launch Services Contract

NASA has awarded a contract modification to United Launch Services LLC of Centennial, Colorado, to add Vulcan Centaur launch services to the company's NASA Launch Services II (NLS II) contract, in accordance with the contract's on-ramp provision. The Vulcan Centaur launch service will be available to NASA's Launch Services Program to use for future missions in accordance with the on-ramp provision of NLS II.

The NLS II contracts are multiple award, indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contracts with an ordering period through June 2025 and an overall period of performance through December 2027. The NLS II on-ramp provision provides an opportunity annually for new launch service providers to compete for future missions and allows existing launch service providers to introduce launch vehicles not currently on their NLS II contracts.

NLS II contractors must have the ability to successfully launch and deliver a payload to orbit using a domestic launch service capable of placing, at minimum, a 250-kilogram payload into a 200-kilometer circular orbit at an inclination of 28.5 degrees.

The NLS II contracts support the goals and objectives of the agency's Science Mission Directorate, Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, and the Space Technology Mission Directorate. Under the contract, NASA can also provide launch services to other government agencies, such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-25-2021 04:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
United Launch Alliance (ULA) release
Vulcan Centaur: Pathfinder fueling tests planned

Pathfinder operations using a flight-configuration Vulcan Centaur core stage at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station are transitioning to Space Launch Complex (SLC)-41 for a series of fueling tests in the coming weeks to systematically validate launch pad infrastructure with the rocket, evaluate countdown procedures and train the launch team in advance of the inaugural Vulcan mission.

Above: The Vulcan Centaur pathfinder rocket leaves the Spaceflight Processing Operations Center (SPOC) for the first tanking test. (ULA)

The Pathfinder Tanking Test (PTT) booster was transferred 2.7 miles (4.3 km) from the Spaceflight Processing Operations Center (SPOC) to the pad today for the start of the countdown rehearsals and fuel-loading trials that will culminate in a comprehensive exercise mimicking the steps to prepare a Vulcan first stage on launch day.

PTT is a Vulcan booster that will fly to space on a later mission. It is fitted with two development BE-4 engines, which were extensively hot fired and will be replaced with flight engines prior to launch.

Pathfinding activities earlier this year with the PTT booster successfully demonstrated transporting the 17.7-foot-diameter, 110-foot-long (5.4-meter-diameter, 33.5-meter-long) core stage from the United Launch Alliance (ULA) production factory in Decatur, Ala., to Cape Canaveral, Fla., aboard the R/S RocketShip vessel. Vulcan's size is too large for road or air transportation, making RocketShip ideally suited to send the stages to the coastal launch sites.

A significant milestone followed on Feb. 15 when the stage was hoisted into the Vertical Integration Facility and positioned aboard the Vulcan Launch Platform (VLP). The Launch Vehicle on Stand (LVOS) event used processes and procedures evolved from time-proven Atlas V operations at the VIF.

After attaching a 19-foot-long (6-meter) Interstage Adapter (ISA) and a protective top cover onto the stage, the VLP moved the PTT rocket along the rail tracks that connect the VIF to the SPOC. This relocation kicked off an extensive program of fit checks of the SPOC, evaluations of ground support systems in the facility and first article testing of the Vulcan core.

Above: The Vulcan Centaur pathfinder rocket is ready to begin a new phase of testing at Space Launch Complex-41. (ULA)

This week, ULA leadership and engineering teams held a test readiness review of the rocket hardware, pad systems, procedures and crew. The meeting authorized the pathfinder testing to proceed at the launch pad where three major operations are planned over the next few weeks:

  • A liquid oxygen tanking test to load 808,000 pounds (366,500 kg) of liquid oxygen, chilled to -297 degrees F (-183 deg C), into the stage.

  • A liquefied natural gas (LNG) tanking test to load 254,000 pounds (115,200 kg) of LNG, chilled to -260 degrees F (-162 deg C), into the stage. It will mark the first time LNG has been loaded into a space launch vehicle at Cape Canaveral.

  • A comprehensive test to load both LNG and liquid oxygen into the stage following the same steps and timeline as launch day.
"The dual-commodity tanking test will show the thermal characteristics of the booster and engines and validate our assumptions for tanking timelines. It also allows us to characterize and calibrate the propellant flow rates through our new fill/drain and topping valves and systems," said Dillon Rice, ULA's Vulcan Centaur launch conductor.

All of the tanking tests will utilize some of the significant modifications made to SLC-41 that have transformed the site into a dual-use pad to seamlessly handle both Atlas V and Vulcan Centaur manifests simultaneously. The work includes a newly installed LNG storage area featuring three reservoirs and upgrades made to the booster liquid oxygen transfer lines.

On each test day, the launch pad will be prepared by ground technicians before the countdown clock reaches T-minus 3 hours. Once all is confirmed in readiness, ULA Launch Director Lou Mangieri will declare the "go" for the countdown to proceed into cryogenic tanking operations.

The first two tanking tests are planned to count down to T-minus 5 minutes and holding, collect the thermal data as needed, perform specialized tests planned for each propellant system and then move into the detanking operations to drain the cryogenic propellant from the rocket.

For the combined LNG and liquid oxygen loading day, the countdown will enter a simplified version of the terminal count that covers the final few minutes before T-minus 0 seconds.

"In a nutshell, the 'terminal count lite' as we are calling it, will close the vent valves and bring the booster propellant tanks to their flight pressures. This also validates our analysis assumptions and predictions. Once the tanks are pressurized, we will remain at flight pressure until we hit T-0," Rice said.

"We will then demonstrate recycle procedures such as venting tank pressures from flight to standby levels and resume propellant topping."

The day concludes with detanking and safing the rocket stage.

The Vulcan Centaur program is steadily moving towards its maiden flight in 2022. It combines the best of today's Atlas V and Delta IV rocket families with the latest technology advancements. The result is a single launch system that provides higher performance and greater affordability while continuing to deliver unmatched reliability and precision.

The next-generation rocket has captured upwards of 30 planned missions for U.S. national security space launch, Sierra Space's Dream Chaser spaceplane to deliver cargo and supplies to the International Space Station and the inaugural payload, Astrobotic's Peregrine commercial lunar lander headed for the Moon.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 49860
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 10-12-2022 11:48 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
United Launch Alliance (ULA) release
ULA Sets Path Forward for Inaugural Vulcan Flight Test

Next generation rocket to transform the future of space launch

United Launch Alliance (ULA) is nearing completion of the development of the next-generation Vulcan Centaur launch vehicle and sets path for its first launch early next year.

"We could not be more excited to be this close to seeing Vulcan lift off on its inaugural flight," said Tory Bruno, ULA's president and CEO. "Vulcan's high energy design coupled with innovative technology provides one scalable system for all missions and will transform the future of space launch."

ULA is proceeding to a first flight of Vulcan 1st quarter 2023 to align with a request from its payload customer Astrobotic, who will be flying its Peregrine lunar lander to the Moon for NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program.

This commercial mission is part of ULA's requirement to meet the U.S. Space Force certification of its new launch vehicle. Mark Peller, vice president of Major Development, stated "We are committed to ensuring we fly the first certification mission and stay on schedule to achieve U.S. Space Force certification of Vulcan in advance of our first national security space mission in 4th quarter 2023."

In addition to the Astrobotic and Celestis payloads, Vulcan will carry two demonstration satellites for Amazon as part of its Project Kuiper.

The first Vulcan launch vehicle is nearing completion in ULA's factory in Decatur, Alabama and is awaiting installation of its BE-4 engines. We expect to ship the completed vehicle to the launch site in November.

Once at the Cape Vulcan will undergo a final series of tests to verify it readiness for flight consisting of multiple tanking tests and a wet dress rehearsal, culminating in flight readiness firing in December, which will be the final step prior to launch. Following the successful final testing, Astrobotic and the other payloads will be installed on the launch vehicle.

"This has been an incredible journey to get to this point and I am so proud of the development team," said Bruno. "We look forward to the first flight as Vulcan offers all customers higher performance and greater affordability while continuing to deliver our unmatched reliability."

Leveraging a legacy of 100 percent mission success launching more than 150 missions to explore, protect and enhance our world, ULA is the nation's most experienced and reliable launch service provider with world-leading reliability, schedule confidence, and mission optimization. We deliver value unmatched by any launch services company in the industry, a tireless drive to improve, and commitment to the extraordinary.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 49860
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 10-19-2022 09:52 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Northrop Grumman release
Northrop Grumman Delivers First GEM 63XL Solid Rocket Boosters to Support Vulcan First Flight

Northrop Grumman Corporation has delivered the first two 63-inch-diameter extended length Graphite Epoxy Motors (GEM 63XL) to Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida. The solid rocket boosters will support the inaugural flight of United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Vulcan Centaur rocket planned for first quarter 2023. At approximately 72-feet-long, and weighing over 117,000 pounds, the GEM 63XL is the longest monolithic single-cast solid rocket motor ever produced. Together the two boosters will provide nearly one million pounds of additional thrust for ULA’s Vulcan rocket with each booster contributing over 463,200 pounds of thrust at launch.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 49860
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-13-2023 10:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
United Launch Alliance (ULA) release
ULA's Innovative Vulcan Rocket One Step Closer to Launch

The first Vulcan rocket is complete and headed to the launch site

The United Launch Alliance (ULA) Vulcan Centaur rocket has begun its journey to the launch site in preparation for the first test flight. The certification flight one (Cert-1) rocket was completed, loaded onto the R/S RocketShip outside of ULA's rocket factory in Decatur, Ala. and is on a 2,000-mile voyage to Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

Above: The United Launch Alliance (ULA) Vulcan Certification-1 (Cert-1) booster is transported from ULA's Rocket Factory in Decatur, Alabama to R/S RocketShip to begin its journey to the launch site at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida ahead of its first launch in 2023.

"The first Vulcan is complete, and we look forward to the test flight this year. Vulcan is a powerful rocket with a single core booster that is scalable for all missions including heavy class performance normally requiring a Delta IV Heavy configuration," said Tory Bruno, ULA's president and CEO. "Vulcan provides higher performance and greater affordability while continuing to deliver our unmatched reliability and orbital precision for all our customers across the national security, civil and commercial markets."

Once RocketShip arrives in Cape Canaveral, the Vulcan hardware will be transferred to ULA facilities for inspections and processing ahead of launch preparations. Vulcan will undergo a series of flight readiness verification tests including multiple tanking tests and a wet dress rehearsal, culminating in an engine flight readiness firing. Following the successful final testing, the payloads will be integrated, and the vehicle will be readied for launch.

"The ULA team has worked tirelessly to complete the rocket for the first certification flight," said Mark Peller, vice president of Vulcan Development. "Now that production is complete, our launch team will begin processing and testing this innovative new rocket in preparation for the first mission which will deliver a payload to the Moon."

Leveraging a legacy of 100 percent mission success launching more than 150 missions to explore, protect and enhance our world, ULA is the nation's most experienced and reliable launch service provider with world-leading reliability, schedule confidence, and mission optimization. We deliver value unmatched by any launch services company in the industry, a tireless drive to improve, and commitment to the extraordinary.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 49860
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-23-2023 10:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
United Launch Alliance (ULA) release
Vulcan Centaur: First flight article arrives at Cape Canaveral

All elements of the first United Launch Alliance (ULA) Vulcan Centaur rocket have arrived at Cape Canaveral to begin processing towards the inaugural test flight of ULA's next generation rocket.

Above: The Vulcan rocket arrives at Cape Canaveral facilities.

Hardware was transported from ULA's production factory in Decatur, Alabama, to the Florida launch site aboard the latest voyage of the R/S RocketShip. The vessel docked at Port Canaveral on Jan. 21 and was unloaded on Jan. 22.

The first flight items shipped include the Vulcan booster first stage interstage adapter and Centaur V upper stage. The hardware was transferred from RocketShip to ULA facilities at Cape Canaveral for post-arrival inspections and the start of launch preparations.

The booster measures 109.2 feet (33.3 meters) in length and 17.7 feet (5.4 meters) in diameter. Made of internal orthogrid aluminum construction to create a structurally stable stage, it is equipped with two BE-4 main engines, each producing approximately 550,000 pounds (2.45 mega-Newtons) of thrust to lift Vulcan out of the atmosphere on the way to orbit.

Above: The Vulcan rocket's first stage arrives at Cape Canaveral.

Centaur V, with its pressure-stabilized stainless-steel tanks, is 38.5 feet (11.7 meters) in length and 17.7 feet (5.4 meters) in diameter. The cryogenic stage features two RL10C-1-1A engines, each producing 23,825 pounds (106 kilo-Newtons) of thrust to deliver the inaugural flight payloads to three different orbits: low Earth orbit, a high-energy orbit at nearly lunar distance, and an Earth escape orbit into interplanetary space.

The Certification-1 launch will deliver two Project Kuiper demonstration satellites into low Earth orbit, place the Astrobotic Peregrine commercial lunar lander in a highly elliptical orbit more than 225,000 miles (360,000 km) above Earth to intercept the Moon, and carry a Celestis Memorial Spaceflight Payload beyond the Earth-Moon system to orbit the Sun forever.

Vulcan makes access to space more affordable by taking advantage of new manufacturing technologies and streamlined processes. This new all-American rocket brings new opportunities in space and more capabilities on Earth.

Above: A convoy of the interstage and Centaur V depart RocketShip.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 49860
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-25-2023 04:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
United Launch Alliance photo release
Vulcan is vertical! This rocket will launch two Project Kuiper prototype broadband satellites into low Earth orbit, send the Astrobotic Peregrine commercial lunar lander to intercept the Moon and carry a Celestis memorial payload into deep space.

Coming up in our Countdown To Vulcan, the Centaur V upper stage will be hoisted atop the first stage, integrated testing will be performed, then Vulcan will move to Space Launch Complex-41 for fueling tests culminating with a Flight Readiness Firing.

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