First Vulcan Launch Slips to 2021

Artist’s conception of Vulcan rocket. (Credit: ULA)

SpaceNews reports the first launch of ULA’s new Vulcan booster will slip from 2020 to spring 2021.

During a panel discussion at the American Astronautical Society’s Wernher von Braun Symposium here Oct. 24, John Elbon, chief operating officer of ULA, said the company was making “good progress” on the vehicle, an effort aided by winning one of three Launch Service Agreement (LSA) awards from the U.S. Air Force Oct. 10.

“We’re making good progress on the development” of Vulcan, he said. “Our first certification flight is targeted for April of ’21. We were really excited about the results of the Air Force’s LSA procurement. We’re off and marching.”

As recently as last month, though, ULA said the first Vulcan launch was scheduled for 2020, a date the company had bene holding for some time. In a Sept. 27 release about its selection of Blue Origin’s BE-4 engine for Vulcan’s first stage, the company said the vehicle “is on track for its initial flight in mid-2020.”

  • Hypx

    Since the BE-4 still hasn’t finishing test firing, I won’t be shocked if this gets postponed to 2022. There seems to be an enormous amount of work left to do.

  • 76 er

    Yes, there’s certainly been a dearth of news lately about the BE-4 engine.

  • Terry Stetler

    I heard they were stuck at ~70% thrust for an extended period.

  • Jeff2Space

    Interesting. Developing big engines isn’t easy. There were a lot of development problems with the F-1 engine. It’s unfortunately not as simple as taking a smaller engine and scaling everything up.

  • ThomasLMatula

    The New Glenn seems to be on schedule.

  • ReSpaceAge

    Has there been any info about Raptor. I have heard that Musk seemed thrilled with Raptor testing? BFS will likely test fly before Vulcan. Lol

  • Robert G. Oler

    we will see…with the BE4 they are pretty much on track

  • ThomasLMatula

    Yes, but it’s ULA, so they find some other way to drag out it’s development and generate cost over runs to maximize the money they are getting from the government for it. Over runs for delayed projects seems to be a new profit strategy for old space.