ULA Performed Static Fire Test of Vulcan Rocket For the First Time (Video)8th Jun 2023
United Launch Alliance conducted a static-fire test of its Vulcan Centaur rocket on 7th June with Blue Origin’s BE-4 engines.
The Vulcan rocket’s two BE-4 engines ignited at 9:05 p.m. EDT Wednesday (0105 UTC Thursday) and burned for about six seconds, generating nearly a million pounds of thrust as hold-down restraints kept the launcher firmly in the starting blocks at pad 41. The test appeared to go as planned.
“This is a huge milestone,” said Mark Peller, ULA’s vice president for the Vulcan rocket program. “This is as close as you can come to launching a rocket without actually launching the rocket, so a complete integrated test of all the airborne elements, the ground systems, all coming together, putting it through everything that we would on a normal day of launch, up to and including actually starting the main engine, everything short of releasing the rocket.”
ULA have not completed their investigation into the upper-stage anomaly experienced during their previous testing. However, the company is still positive about launching in the summer. A spokesperson said on 11th May:
“Vulcan is in position atop SLC-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station to undergo a full launch day rehearsal tomorrow and flight readiness firing test of its main engines is planned for next week.”
The rocket was taken to Space Launch Complex 41 ready for testing to take place. Tory Bruno, CEO of ULA, took to Twitter to explain that the tanking tests would get back underway even though the investigation into the anomaly back in March was still to be finished.
Readying For Launch
Had the incident of 29th March not occurred, ULA would have been planning the launch of Vulcan Centaur on 4th May. ULA hasn’t given a new date for the launch but will look to carry out its debut in the coming months: “With success here, and a resolution of the Centaur V ground test anomaly, we are projecting for a Vulcan Cert-1 launch this summer,” Bruno explained.
The test fire this week will be live-streamed as final preparations ramp up towards the debut launch. That launch will carry Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander as well as satellites for Project Kuiper by Amazon, as well as a payload for Celestis, which ULA explained will carry “more than 150 flight capsules containing cremated remains (ashes), DNA samples, and messages of greetings from clients worldwide on an endless journey in interplanetary space.”