From Atlas to Vulcan: 34 Years of Rocket Evolution in 1 Image

Atlas to Vulcan Infographic
Tory Bruno, the president and chief executive of United Launch Alliance, tweeted this infographic July 29 depicting the Vulcan rocket's Atlas heritage. (Image credit: ULA)

Tory Bruno, the president and chief executive of United Launch Alliance, took to Twitter July 29 to discuss the heritage of his company’s new rocket, known as Vulcan, and unveil the infographic above.

"An effective way to manage risk is to incrementally add new technologies to an existing platform," Bruno said in a follow-up tweet. "Transforming the rocket in steps."

With a new infographic, Bruno showed how Vulcan's heritage dates back to 1990 and draws from Lockheed Martin's Atlas 1, 2 and 2A. The chart also depicts how ULA envisions Vulcan evolving through 2024, when it will take advantage of reusable rocket engines. [Video: ULA's Vulcan Rocket Explained]

This evolution includes the addition of ACES, a new upper stage known as the Advanced Cryogenic Evolved Stage, as well as a new first stage featuring the methane-fueled BE-4 engine, which is being developed by Blue Origin of Kent, Washington. ULA is also working with Aerojet Rocketdyne on the AR-1 engine, in case the Blue Origin-funded BE-4   runs into developmental issues.

Bruno unveiled the first details about Vulcan in a series of interviews earlier this year and then announced additional details during a grand unveiling in April at the Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Vulcan is expected to pick up much of ULA’s medium-class launch market beginning around 2021, but the move means the end of ULA’s current workhorse rocket, the Atlas 5.

This story was provided by SpaceNews, dedicated to covering all aspects of the space industry.

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Mike Gruss is a veteran defense reporter and Editor-in-Chief of Sightline Media Group, which includes Army Times, Air Force Times, Dense News, Military Times and Navy Times. From 2013 to 2016, Mike served as a Senior Staff Writer for SpaceNews covering national security space programs and military space policy in the U.S. Congress. Mike earned a bachelor's degree in English and American Studies from Miami University and has previously wrote for the Journal Gazette in Fort Wayne, Indiana and the Virginian-Pilot in Virginia before joining SpaceNews. Prior to joining Sightline in 2017, he was a senior editor of FedTech magazine covering technology in federal government. You can see Mike's latest project on Twitter.