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To the moon! ULA Vulcan gives a boost to lunar mission

CAPE CANAVERAL SPACE FORCE STATION, Fla. – With the roar of its engines lighting up the late-night sky, United Launch Alliance marked the beginning of a new era of space capabilities with the launch of its next generation Vulcan rocket this morning.

The Decatur-built Vulcan lifted off at 1:18 a.m. CST from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, ULA announced. The Vulcan provides industry-leading capabilities to deliver any payload, at any time, to any orbit, the company said.

“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.”

ULA said 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.”

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

he Celestis mission carries the ashes of the creator of the original “Star Trek” series Gene Roddenberry, his wife Majela, some of its cast members and science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke, the company said in a news release.

Hair containing DNA samples believed to be from George Washington, Dwight Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy were also on the flight, according to the company.

The Cert-1 mission served as the first of two certification flights required for the Space Force’s certification process. The second certification mission is slated 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 toward 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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