A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Vulcan VC2S rocket will launch the first certification mission from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida. The Cert-1 flight test 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 surface. The second payload is Celestis’ Memorial Spaceflights deep space Voyager mission, the Enterprise Flight.
Launch Date and Time: Dec. 24, 2023 at 1:49 a.m. EST
GO Vulcan! GO Centaur! GO Cert-1!
To keep up to speed with updates to the launch countdown, dial the ULA launch hotline at 1-877-852-4321.
Join the conversation on social media @ulalaunch.
A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Vulcan VC2S rocket will launch the first certification mission from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida. Cert-1 will deliver the Astrobotic Peregrine commercial lunar lander into a highly elliptical orbit more than 220,000 miles (360,000 km) above Earth to intercept the Moon and will carry a Celestis Memorial Spaceflight Payload into deep space.
The spacecraft is encapsulated in a 5.4-m- (17.7-ft-) diameter payload fairing (PLF), a sandwich composite structure made with a vented aluminum-honeycomb core and graphite-epoxy face sheets. The bisector (two-piece shell) PLF encapsulates the spacecraft. The payload attach fitting (PAF) is a similar sandwich composite structure creating the mating interface from spacecraft to second stage and payload fairing. The PLF separates using a debris-free horizontal and vertical separation system with spring packs and frangible joint assembly. The payload fairing is available in the 15.5-m (51-ft) standard and 21.3-m (70-ft) long configurations.
The Centaur V second stage is 17.7 ft (5.4 m) in diameter and 38.5 ft (11.7 m) in length. Its propellant tanks are pressure-stabilized and constructed of corrosion-resistant stainless steel. Centaur is a cryogenic vehicle, fueled with liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen, powered by two RL10C-1-1A engines producing 23,825 pounds (106 kilo-Newtons) of thrust. The cryogenic tanks are insulated with a combination of helium-purged blankets, radiation shields and spray-on foam insulation (SOFI). The Centaur forward adapter (CFA) provides structural mountings for the fault-tolerant avionics system and structural and electrical interfaces with the spacecraft.
The booster is 17.7 ft (5.4 m) in diameter and 109.2 ft (33.3 m) in length. The booster’s tanks are structurally rigid and constructed of orthogrid aluminum barrels, spun-formed aluminum domes and intertank skirts. The liquefied natural gas (LNG) / methane fueled booster will be powered by a pair of BE-4 engines, each producing 550,000 pounds (2,400 kN) of sea level thrust. Two graphite epoxy motor (GEM) 63XL solid rocket boosters (SRBs) generate the additional power required at liftoff, with each providing 459,600 lbs (2,044 kN) of thrust. The Centaur avionics system, provides guidance, flight control and vehicle sequencing functions during the booster and Centaur phases of flight.
Space Launch Complex-41, the East Coast home of the Vulcan and Atlas V rockets at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, employs a “clean pad” concept of operations to ready launch vehicles and payloads for ascent into space. The rocket elements are assembled atop a Vulcan Launch Platform (VLP) inside the Vertical Integration Facility (VIF) located adjacent to the launch pad. The platform and fully stacked Vulcan rocket then travel by rail approximately 1,800 feet northward from the VIF to the pad for the final countdown, fueling and liftoff. Complex 41 was constructed by the U.S. Air Force in the 1960s for the Titan rocket program.
1. Segment Ready Storage (SRS) Facility
Solid Rocket Booster (SRB) Processing & Staging
2. Advanced Spaceflight Operations Center (ASOC)
Launch Control Center &
Mission Director’s Center
3. Delta Operations Center (DOC)
Interstage Adapter (ISA) &
Centaur V Processing and Staging
4. Spacecraft Processing Facility
Spacecraft Processing, Testing & Encapsulation
5. Vertical Integration Facility (VIF)
Launch Vehicle Integration & Testing,
Spacecraft Mate & Integrated Operations
1. Kent, Washington
BE-4 Engine Fabrication at Blue Origin
2. Magna, UT
Solid Rocket Booster Fabrication at Northrop Grumman
3. Denver, CO
ULA Headquarters & Design
4. Decatur, AL
Booster Fabrication & Final
Assembly, Centaur Tank
Fabrication & Final Assembly
5. Decatur, AL
5.4-m Payload Fairing
Fabrication at Beyond Gravity
6. West Palm Beach, FL
RL10C-1-1A Engine Fabrication at Aerojet Rocketdyne