Saturday, May 27, 2023

Vulcan Never Completed that Test Firing

Back on the 11th, we ran a story that United Launch Alliance was going to do some extensive testing of the first Vulcan booster in preparation for its Cert-1 flight, to include tanking tests and a short static firing called a Flight Readiness Test or Firing.  The aim is to do what seems to be a wet dress rehearsal but with a short static firing, a duration of six seconds was cited in that linked ULA article. The FRF would be of the liquid-fueled (Methane/LOX) BE-4 engines but not light the solid rocket boosters, which can't really be turned off and refueled. 

The estimated date was "within a week" and that didn't happen.  It wasn't widely covered but on Thursday (the 25th) there was a channel up on YouTube with a promise it would go live at (as best I recall) 6PM EDT.  At some point well before that, maybe 5PM, I went back to that open tab in the background and it was shut down with no indication of a time to resume. A bit of searching led to this ULA page and the story. 

The fact that they had enough trouble to stand down from the test was proof that the test is worth the time and effort.  They thought all that hardware was ready and (as pretty much always) learn from their failure.  It's my understanding that they rolled the Vulcan back to their integration facility ('hangar') for some of this work - I think I saw that somewhere in the last few days.  Rolling between the two facilities isn't a big deal.  

I see no word on when they plan to try again.  One would assume they're not working Memorial Day Monday or over the weekend. 


  1. This is why tests are made - WDRs, SFs, full dress rehersals. Once you light the fire you can't turn back, especially SRBs. However, delays of SLS's final launch ran down the batteries on a LOT of the rideshare satellites.

  2. So was the issue with ULA's side of the system or Blue Origin's? Still not expecting the BE4s to actually work, because I am the complete opposite of an optimist. Something to do with my German heritage, you know, all things look perfect and still goes wrong.