Vulcan Centaur Pathfinder comes to Cape Canaveral

Space Coast, FL – Last night, Rocketship arrived in Port Canaveral, FL. The Vulcan Centaur, by United Launch Alliance (ULA), had arrived as well. The cargo ship set sail from from Decatur, AL to Cape Canaveral, FL on Feb. 4, 2021. It carried hardware from all three of ULA’s rocket family — AtlasV, Delta IV and Vulcan. The offloading of the Vulcan pathfinder rocket happened this morning.

Vulcan Centaur being transported
Vulcan Centaur being hauled from Rocketship towards Cape Canaveral Space Force Station | photo: Jon Van Horne

Vulcan Centaur Pathfinder

Pathfinder is to run a series of tests. Those tests will confirm the pad systems, ground infrastructure and countdown procedures. It will all happen prior to the inaugural Vulcan Centaur launch.

Vulcan Centaur roll out
The first of ULA’s new rocket to provide as a test article | photo: Crystal Gabriel

The Vertical Integration Facility (VIF), the new Spaceflight Processing Operations Center (SPOC) and the Space Launch Complex (SLC)-41 pad will all help to prepare for future operational Vulcan Centaur launch campaigns.

Mack truck making wide turn to bring Vulcan Centaur to CCSFS
Making a wide turn, the Mack truck brings the pathfinder rocket to the entrance of CCSFS | photo: Jon Van Horne

The PTT (Pathfinding Tanking Test) booster is a flight configuration fitted with Blue Origin BE-4 development engines. The size of the pathfinder is 17.7ft. in diameter and 110ft. long (5.4-meter-diameter, 33.5-meter-long). The rocket will help ground crews and launch teams get accustomed to the enhanced techniques, for pre-flight processing. This will also help them run the countdown to configure the rocket for flight.

Blue Origin BE-4 developmental engines on Vulcan | photo: Crystal Gabriel

When all testing is concluded, and satisfactory, the pathfinder will then be removed from the Vulcan Launch Platform. Going forward, it will make way for stacking of another flight ready Vulcan rocket for the inaugural launch. The first launch of Vulcan is slated for mid/late 2021.

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