A Vulcan rocket terminated its two BE-4 motors in a static-fire test called the Flight Status Terminating (FRF) at 9:05 p.m. Eastern from Cape Canaveral’s Space Send off Complex 41. The motor turn over succession began at T-4.88 seconds, ULA said in an explanation an hour after the test, with the motors choking up to their objective level for two seconds prior to closing down, finishing up the six-second test. It appeared that the test went as planned. Nominal run,” ULA president and CEO Tory Bruno tweeted shortly after the test.
“This is a significant milestone. This is essentially as close as you can come to sending off a rocket without really sending off the rocket,” Mark Peller, vice president of Vulcan development at ULA, said on a company webcast shortly after the test.
Through the ignition of the engines, the test put all of the vehicle and ground systems through their paces before launching the rocket. He stated, “It’s our final major milestone on the path to launch.” Thus, a significant achievement.
The FRF was to be carried out on May 25 by ULA. However, after discovering a “delayed response” in the ignition system for the booster’s engines, the company called off the test several hours in advance. The issue was resolved by rolling the vehicle back to the Vertical Integration Facility by ULA, but the company did not provide any additional information. Bruno stated in February that the FRF would be the final significant test milestone before Cert-1, the rocket’s inaugural flight. After the test, the rocket will be moved back to the VIF for conclusive arrangements, including combination of its payload, prior to getting back to the cushion for send off.
However, an incident occurred toward the end of March while a Centaur upper stage was being tested at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. A fireball was created when hydrogen leaked from the structural test object and ignited.
In an interview on May 16, Bruno said that the company was still looking into where the leak came from and what, if any, needed to be fixed. Assuming ULA decides no progressions are expected to the upper stage, the Cert-1 send off could occur later in the mid year. If ULA decides to modify the Centaur, that would be postponed until later in the year.
Another factor is that Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander, the primary payload for the Cert-1 launch, had launch windows open for four to five days a month. ULA will likewise need to work around other Chart book dispatches at the cushion, albeit one possible struggle, the main ran trip of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner, has slipped from late July on account of rocket issues. The first two demonstration satellites for Amazon’s Project Kuiper broadband constellation and a payload for the space memorial company Celestis are among Cert-1’s other payloads.