Vulcan Centaur rocket launches private lander to the moon on 1st mission

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — A brand-new rocket just got its wings.

United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Vulcan Centaur launched on its first-ever flight, called Cert-1, early this morning (Jan. 8), from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

Vulcan lifted off at 2:18 a.m. EST (0718 GMT), when the rocket’s two solid rocket boosters (SRBs) and two Blue Origin-built BE-4 first-stage engines blasted the vehicle skyward with nearly 2 million pounds of thrust. Atop the rocket was Pittsburgh-based company Astrobotic’s Peregrine moon lander, which is carrying 20 different customer payloads, including five NASA science instruments.

United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan Centaur rocket lifted off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Monday at 2:18 a.m. EST (0718 GMT).  (Image credit: CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)

A pillar of exhaust trailed Vulcan as the 202-foot-tall (62 meters) rocket rose above its launch tower and disappeared into the dark Florida sky. About two minutes after liftoff, the SRBs successfully separated from Vulcan’s first-stage booster, which continued to climb through Earth’s atmosphere.


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