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United Launch Alliance Successfully Launches First Next Generation Vulcan Rocket

The inaugural launch marks the beginning of an exciting new era for ULA

Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Fla., (January 8, 2024) – United Launch Alliance (ULA) marked the beginning of a new era of space capabilities with the successful launch of its next generation Vulcan rocket on Jan. 8 at 2:18 a.m. EST from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The Vulcan provides industry-leading capabilities to deliver any payload, at any time, to any orbit.

“Vulcan’s inaugural launch ushers in a new, innovative capability to meet the ever-growing requirements of space launch,” said Tory Bruno, ULA’s president and CEO. “Vulcan will provide high performance and affordability while continuing to deliver our superior reliability and orbital precision for all our customers across the national security, civil and commercial markets. Vulcan continues the legacy of Atlas as the world’s only high-energy architecture rocket.”

Vulcan will leverage the world’s highest-performing upper stage to deliver on ULA’s industry-leading legacy of reliability and precision. Centaur V’s matchless flexibility and extreme endurance enables the most complex orbital insertions within the most challenging and clandestine orbits.

“The successful development and flight of this evolutionary rocket is a true testament to the unrivaled dedication and ingenuity of our workforce,” said Mark Peller, vice president of Vulcan Development. “Vulcan’s purpose-built design leverages the best of what we’ve learned from more than 120 combined years of launch experience with Atlas and Delta, ultimately advancing our nation’s space capability and providing unprecedented mission flexibility.”

The first certification flight (Cert-1) mission included two payloads: Astrobotic’s first Peregrine Lunar Lander, Peregrine Mission One (PM1), as part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative to deliver science and technology to the lunar surface, and the Celestis Memorial Spaceflights deep space Voyager mission, the Enterprise Flight.

The Cert-1 mission served as the first of two certification flights required for the U.S. Space Force’s certification process. The second certification mission (Cert-2) is planned to launch in the coming months, followed by a summer launch of the first Vulcan mission to support national security space.

“As we build on today’s successful launch, the team will continue to work towards our future bi-weekly launch rate to meet our customers’ manifest requirements, while continuing to develop future Vulcan upgrades including SMART reuse plans for downrange, non-propulsive recovery of Vulcan engines,” said Bruno.

ULA has sold more than 70 Vulcan launches to date, including 38 missions for Amazon’s Project Kuiper and multiple national security space launch missions as the part of the country’s Phase 2 launch procurement.

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Duncan Idaho

Duncan is a science and technology reporter for CDN and serves as the lead geek correspondent. Follow him if you like rockets, mobile tech, video games or ... just about anything nerdy.

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