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United Launch Alliance stacks Inaugural Vulcan rocket

The United Launch Alliance has announced a major milestone – the inaugural Vulcan rocket has been successfully assembled and is ready for pre-flight testing at its Florida launch site, SLC-41.

The rocket was trucked to the Vertical Integration Facility (VIF) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on January 25th, where teams used processes and procedures evolved from time-proven Atlas V operations to perform activities known as Launch Vehicle on Stand (LVOS).

The process began with the crane grappling both ends of the 109.2-foot-long first stage and then rotating it vertically to be lifted into the 286-foot tall building and secured to the four support fixtures on the Vulcan Launch Platform (VLP).

The next day, the 18.8-foot-tall interstage was attached to the top of the first stage, followed by the high-performance Centaur V upper stage, which measured 38.5 feet in length. This final step was achieved through the commitment and diligence of the entire ULA workforce, support contractors and suppliers from across the country.

Vulcan’s innovative technology is designed to meet the challenging requirements now demanded by an expanding spectrum of missions that are essential to U.S. national defense – from low Earth orbit to high-energy orbits. It is also well-suited for commercial and civil markets, including launching dual-manifested payloads and missions across the solar system.

The rocket is expected to undergo integrated testing of the rocket stages, VLP and ground systems within the VIF over the next few weeks before Vulcan rolls out to Space Launch Complex (SLC)-41 to undergo a series of fuel-loading and countdown exercises. This will culminate with a Flight Readiness Firing (FRF) to practice the full day-of-launch timeline complete with a brief ignition of the rocket’s main engines.

After the FRF, two solid rocket boosters and its payload will be installed for launch. The first launch will send Astrobotic’s Peregrine commercial lunar lander to intercept the Moon, deploy two Project Kuiper prototype broadband satellites into low Earth orbit for Amazon, and carry a Celestis memorial payload into deep space.

ULA’s groundbreaking Vulcan rocket offers it’s customers unprecedented flexibility in a single system. It can be built in less than half the time as its predecessors, launched at a much higher tempo, and carry forward ULA’s unique suite of technologies that give its rockets the world’s most precise orbital insertions. With this exciting new launch system, ULA is beginning an ambitious new era of space exploration.

Michael Lynch
Author: Michael Lynch

Raised on the Space Coast, I want to keep North Brevard informed of what's happening. Send Tips / Story Ideas to TitusvilleMedia@gmail.com

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