US Military Concerned Over Delayed Vulcan Rocket Development

US Military Concerned Over Delayed Vulcan Rocket Development

Lena Kuznetsova
2 min read

US Military Expresses Concerns Over Delayed Development of ULA's Vulcan Rocket

The delayed development of United Launch Alliance's (ULA) Vulcan rocket has raised concerns for the US military, prompting Assistant Secretary Frank Calvelli to urge the companies to accelerate Vulcan's certification and production. The military satellites are currently grounded due to Vulcan's postponements, and ULA has a significant backlog of 25 National Security Space Launch missions to be completed by 2027. Calvelli has requested an independent review of ULA's ability to scale Vulcan manufacturing and meet its commitments. This pressure comes as ULA prepares for a critical astronaut mission this week and negotiates a potential sale to Blue Origin.

Key Takeaways

  • US military worried about Vulcan's ability to scale and meet launch needs
  • Delayed certification and production causing concerns for Air Force
  • 25 NSSL Phase 2 Vulcan launches due by end of 2027, with a backlog at ULA
  • ULA facing pressure to maintain competitiveness and ensure safe, frequent Vulcan flights
  • Questions about achieving a cadence of two Vulcan launches per month by the end of 2025


The US military's concerns over United Launch Alliance's (ULA) Vulcan rocket's development could negatively affect both Boeing and Lockheed Martin, ULA's co-owners, potentially leading to financial repercussions. The delayed certification and production of the Vulcan rocket have caused a backlog of 25 National Security Space Launch missions, leaving military satellites grounded. This situation might weaken the US military's space capabilities in the short term, indirectly benefiting competitors like SpaceX.

In the long term, the pressure on ULA might lead to strategic partnerships or even a sale to companies like Blue Origin, as ULA strives to meet its commitments and ensure safe, frequent Vulcan flights. Additionally, the independent review of ULA's manufacturing capabilities could result in significant changes to the company's production processes and organizational structure, affecting its workforce and suppliers. The successful resolution of these issues is crucial for ULA's competitiveness and the US military's continued reliance on domestic launch providers.

Did You Know?

  • National Security Space Launch (NSSL) missions: NSSL missions are critical space launches for the national security of the United States, involving the deployment of military satellites that provide strategic capabilities such as communication, surveillance, and navigation.
  • Vulcan rocket: A next-generation launch vehicle developed by ULA, designed to be more cost-effective and flexible, but facing delays in development.
  • ULA's backlog and production cadence: ULA has a backlog of 25 NSSL missions to be completed by 2027 and is committed to achieving a cadence of two Vulcan launches per month by the end of 2025.

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