The Colorado-based launch company will end 2023 with just three launches.

 ULA’s Vulcan rocket rolls to the launch pad for testing.

United Launch Alliance will not see the debut of its next-generation Vulcan rocket in 2023, as previously planned.

The launch company’s chief executive, Tory Bruno, announced the delay on the social media site X on Sunday. United Launch Alliance had been working toward a debut flight of the lift booster on Christmas Eve, from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

Bruno made the announcement after the company attempted to complete a fueling test of the entire rocket, known as a wet dress rehearsal.

“Vehicle performed well,” Bruno wrote. “Ground system had a couple of (routine) issues, (being corrected). Ran the timeline long so we didn’t quite finish. I’d like a FULL WDR before our first flight, so XMAS eve is likely out. Next Peregrine window is 8 Jan.”

Peregrine is the rocket’s primary payload, a lunar lander built by Astrobotic that is intended to deliver scientific experiments for NASA and other payloads the Moon. It has specific launch windows in order to reach the Moon and attempt a landing during ideal lighting conditions.

From the information contained in Bruno’s comment, it appears as though the work to correct the ground systems to fuel Vulcan—the first stage propellant is methane, which United Launch Alliance has not worked with before—will take long enough that it will preclude another fueling test ahead of the rocket’s late December launch window. Thus, the next launch attempt will likely occur no earlier than January 8.

[10 Dec 2023] ULA chief says Vulcan rocket will slip to 2024 after ground system issues
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