The new rocket built to be able to compete with SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and give ULA an increase in launch capability is getting very close to its first launch. The new fairings are the latest in parts beginning final testing.

The fairings are built by the long-time partner of ULA, Ruag Space, who is the worldwide leading supplier of payload fairings. They have built fairings for Arianespace’s Ariane 5 and Vega rockets as well as ULA’s Atlas 5.

These new fairings will be different than the ones launched on the Atlas 5, there the lightweight Centaur 3 can’t hold the weight of the 5m fairing and is instead encased in the fairing, with the loads being transferred into the first stage, while on Vulcan its new fairings will attach directly to the new Centaur V upper stage.

A variation of the new fairings are planned to be used for flight tests on an Atlas V sometime before Vulcan’s first flight.

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