WASHINGTON — United Launch Alliance plans to resume tanking tests of its Vulcan Centaur rocket and test fire its main engines as early as next week, the company announced May 11

“Vulcan is in position atop SLC-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station to undergo a full launch day rehearsal tomorrow and flight readiness firing test of its main engines planned for next week,” ULA said. 

ULA rolled the rocket on Thursday to Space Launch Complex 41 in preparation for tests.

ULA’s CEO Tory Bruno  in tweets on Wednesday said Vulcan was returning to tanking tests although the investigation of a Centaur upper-stage testing anomaly that occurred on March 29 has not yet been completed. 

Before the upper-stage incident, ULA had announced a May 4 target date for Vulcan’s first launch, known as Cert-1. 

Targeting summer launch

Bruno on Wednesday said ULA plans to livestream the flight-readiness test firing of the BE-4 main engines. The test fire is expected to last about six seconds, he said. “A short burn, but a very long time to be on the pad.”

ULA has not provided a new target launch date for Vulcan.

“With success here, and a resolution of the Centaur V ground test anomaly, we are projecting for a Vulcan Cert-1 launch this summer,” Bruno wrote.

Cert-1 is the first of two certification launches that Vulcan must complete to be able to fly national security launch missions for the U.S. Space Force. 

The debut launch will carry Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander, two demonstration satellites for Amazon’s Project Kuiper broadband constellation and a payload for space memorial company Celestis.

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...