Introducing Vulcan: America’s next rocket

United Launch Alliance has released the name for their new launch vehicle to follow on from the legacies of Atlas and Delta: Vulcan.  It’s a good name, and I’m sort of pleased they’ve gone with another name drawn from mythology — right up there with Titan, Juno, Thor (Delta’s ancestor), Jupiter, Nike, and of course the mighty Saturn.  The first stage will be powered with methane, and ultimately ULA hopes to recover the engines (though not the entire first stage), perhaps via helicopter recovery — I would expect that design to evolve considerably before actual reuse begins, just as happened with SpaceX’s reusable flyback concept has evolved.  Blue Origin, the engine manufacturer, has confirmed the BA-4 engine is designed with reuse in mine.  Today, ULA released this sneak peek at the vehicle:

Incidentally, SpaceX was due to launch CRS-6 to the ISS today, but the weather was not cooperative.  Too many thunderheads near the Cape.  They will try again tomorrow.


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