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ULA delays first launch of Vulcan to June at the earliest

Peregrine landing site

An official from Astrobotics confirmed this week that an explosion during testing of the Centaur upper stage of its new Vulcan rocket will delay that rocket’s first launch for at least one to two months, from May to June or July.

On March 29, Tory Bruno, the CEO of Colorado-based spacecraft makers United Launch Alliance LLC, announced on his personal Twitter account that ULA’s Vulcan Centaur V rocket had experienced “an anomaly,” which preceded a tweet he shared on April 13 that showed a video of an explosion that occurred outside of a testing rig that housed the ULA rocket. He alluded to a hydrogen-related leak as being a possible culprit and in response the next day to other replies, Bruno said in a tweet that “June/July” will be the next earliest estimated launch timeline.

That timeline is the same one that John Thornton, CEO of North Side-based Astrobotic, shared during a speech as part of a kickoff event for the Aviation and Robotics Summit in the Strip District on Tuesday.

The main payload on that Vulcan inaugural launch is Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander, carrying several NASA science instruments to the Gruithusien Domes region on the Moon, as indicated by the white dot on the picture above.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


  • Ray Van Dune

    A bit surprising, as I thought Centaur V was derived from well-established technology. Centaur upper stages have been around since forever.

  • David M. Cook

    NASA didn‘t want to put the first Centaurs in the payload bay of the Space Shuttle. They thought it was just too dangerous.

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