Enlarge / The first Vulcan rocket lifts off from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. (credit: United Launch Alliance)

After the impressive debut of the Vulcan rocket in January, it is unclear when the heavy lift vehicle will fly again. The uncertainty is due to a couple of factors, including the rocket’s readiness and, perhaps more critically, what will fly on top of it.

United Launch Alliance, which assembles and launches the Vulcan rocket, has long maintained that it would launch the Dream Chaser spacecraft for Sierra Space on the rocket’s second mission. This would allow the rocket company to obtain enough data about the performance of Vulcan to earn certification for national security payloads.

An indication of the emphasis the company has put on earning certification from the Space Force—launching military payloads is the primary justification for the existence of Vulcan—comes from the names it chose for the first two launches, Cert-1 and Cert-2.

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