United Launch Alliance's New Vulcan Rocket Begins Final Road to First Launch

ULA schedules inaugural launch for Dec. 24, 2023

CAPE CANAVERAL SPACE FORCE STATION, Fla., Nov. 6, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The United Launch Alliance (ULA) new innovative Vulcan rocket is beginning final processing milestones in advance of the inaugural launch. The first certification mission (Cert-1) is planned to launch on Sunday, Dec. 24, from Space Launch Complex-41 (SLC-41) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida. The Vulcan rocket will provide higher performance and greater affordability for ULA customers across national security, civil and commercial markets.

“This launch begins a new era for ULA and for the country,” said Tory Bruno, ULA’s president and CEO. “This rocket is transforming the future of launch. Vulcan satisfies all challenging orbital requirements essential for U.S. national defense and provides one scalable system for all missions while continuing to provide unmatched reliability and orbital precision.”

The Cert-1 mission includes two payloads, the first Peregrine Lunar Lander, Peregrine Mission One (PM1) for Astrobotic as part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative to deliver science and technology to the lunar service. The second payload is Celestis’ Memorial Spaceflights deep space Voyager mission, the Enterprise Flight.

“We have worked diligently to develop this evolutionary rocket and certify the first vehicle for flight,” said Mark Peller, vice president of Vulcan Development. “This next generation launch vehicle incorporates new technology at all levels, powered by American ingenuity to meet our nation’s need for expanding space missions.”

The Cert-1 mission serves as the first of two certification flights required for the U.S. Space Force’s certification process. The second certification mission is planned for early 2024.

The Cert-1 Centaur V is enroute to the ULA facilities in Cape Canaveral, Florida aboard ULA’s R/S RocketShip. Additional future processing milestones include a wet dress rehearsal (WDR), spacecraft integration and then final processing in preparation for launch. Launch vehicle processing updates will be available at

About United Launch Alliance
Leveraging a legacy of 100 percent mission success launching more than 155 missions to explore, protect and enhance our world, ULA is the nation’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider with world-leading reliability, schedule confidence, and mission optimization. We deliver value unmatched by any launch services company in the industry, a tireless drive to improve, and commitment to the extraordinary.

For more information on ULA, visit the ULA website at and join the conversation on social media @ulalaunch.

Photos available on the ULA Flickr page.
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