Three days at Christmastime will be the final chance for United Launch Alliance to get its new Vulcan rocket off the ground this year, the company’s chief executive announced Tuesday.
Still waiting for delivery of an upper stage and a final round of qualification testing following a test mishap earlier this year, Tory Bruno, ULA’s CEO, told CNBC on Tuesday that the Vulcan rocket’s first demonstration flight is scheduled for launch December 24. There are two backup launch dates available December 25 and 26, or else the launch will have to wait until January.
There are threats to this schedule, but ULA officials were confident enough in the timeline to publicly disclose the launch date Tuesday. They have also told Astrobotic, which is flying its first commercial Moon cargo lander on the inaugural Vulcan rocket, to ship its spacecraft from the company’s Pittsburgh headquarters to Florida in anticipation of a December launch.