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ULA sets May 4 date for first Vulcan launch
Posted: Sat, Feb 25, 2023, 9:08 AM ET (1408 GMT)
Vulcan launch vehicle illustration (ULA) United Launch Alliance has scheduled the first launch of its Vulcan Centaur rocket for no earlier than May 4. ULA CEO Tory Bruno announced the new launch date in a call with reporters late Thursday to provide an update on preparations for the mission. That date is based on planned testing of the rocket, including a wet dress rehearsal and static-fire test, as well as qualification testing of the BE-4 engine used on the rocket's first stage. Bruno said those qualification tests turned up an issue with one engine that had slightly higher performance than expected from its main oxygen pump, but an investigation found it to be only unit-to-unit variation. The launch date is also driven by the requirements of the primary payload, Astrobotic's Peregrine lunar lander, which has a window of only a few days each month. With a date set for the Vulcan launch, Bruno said it can now assess its effects on other ULA missions, such as the Atlas 5 launch of Boeing's Starliner crew capsule scheduled for April.
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