Northrop Grumman’s Solid Rocket Boosters Power ULA’s Vulcan Rocket Maiden Launch

Northrop Grumman’s Solid Rocket Boosters Power ULA’s Vulcan Rocket Maiden Launch

Two of Northrop Grumman Corporation’s extended-length, 63-inch-diameter Graphite Epoxy Motors (GEM 63XL) solid rocket boosters helped power the inaugural flight of United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan Rocket and the first certification (Cert-1) mission. 

  • The GEM 63XL boosters are the longest monolithic, single-cast solid rocket boosters ever manufactured and flown.
  • The launch represents the first flight of the GEM 63XL solid rocket boosters.
  • The boosters delivered more than 900,000 pounds of thrust, nearly two-thirds of the vehicle’s total thrust at lift-off.

Wendy Williams, vice president and general manager, of launch and missile defense systems, Northrop Grumman: “The propulsion capability of our unmatched boosters deliver impressive power and high reliability to our customers. The GEM 63XL boosters represent the next step in our decades of flight-proven heritage of best-in-class propulsion technologies.”

Details on GEM 63XL:

The Cert-1 mission carried two payloads, one that will deliver science and technology to the lunar surface, including Astrobotic’s first Peregrine Lunar Lander, Peregrine Mission One, as part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program and the second was Celestis’ Memorial Spaceflights deep-space Voyager mission.

Northrop Grumman began development of the fifth-generation GEM 63XL strap-on boosters in 2015, under a cooperative agreement with ULA to provide additional lift capability for the Vulcan launch vehicle. The motor was qualified for flight in 2020 via static test firing at the company’s Promontory, Utah, test facilities. In June 2022, ULA awarded Northrop Grumman a multi-year contract worth more than $2 billion for increased production of its GEM boosters, which will support Amazon’s Project Kuiper and additional ULA customers.

Northrop Grumman has supplied rocket propulsion to ULA and its heritage companies for various launch vehicles since 1964. The GEM 63XL is an extended-length variation of the GEM 63 boosters, which have supported eight Atlas V launches with 27 boosters to date. The company’s Commerce, Calif., facility also manufactured the Vulcan launch vehicle’s hydrazine diaphragm propellant tank, which feeds the Centaur upper-stage Reaction Control System to provide guidance and control during the later stages of launch. This tank is a more powerful successor to the ones previously supplied by Northrop Grumman for the Atlas V and Delta IV programs.

Click here to learn more about Northrop Grumman's Space Propulsion.

Publisher: SatNow

GNSS Constellations - A list of all GNSS satellites by constellations


Satellite NameOrbit Date
BeiDou-3 G4Geostationary Orbit (GEO)17 May, 2023
BeiDou-3 G2Geostationary Orbit (GEO)09 Mar, 2020
Compass-IGSO7Inclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)09 Feb, 2020
BeiDou-3 M19Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)16 Dec, 2019
BeiDou-3 M20Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)16 Dec, 2019
BeiDou-3 M21Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)23 Nov, 2019
BeiDou-3 M22Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)23 Nov, 2019
BeiDou-3 I3Inclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)04 Nov, 2019
BeiDou-3 M23Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)22 Sep, 2019
BeiDou-3 M24Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)22 Sep, 2019


Satellite NameOrbit Date
GSAT0223MEO - Near-Circular05 Dec, 2021
GSAT0224MEO - Near-Circular05 Dec, 2021
GSAT0219MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0220MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0221MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0222MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0215MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017
GSAT0216MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017
GSAT0217MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017
GSAT0218MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017


Satellite NameOrbit Date
Kosmos 2569--07 Aug, 2023
Kosmos 2564--28 Nov, 2022
Kosmos 2559--10 Oct, 2022
Kosmos 2557--07 Jul, 2022
Kosmos 2547--25 Oct, 2020
Kosmos 2545--16 Mar, 2020
Kosmos 2544--11 Dec, 2019
Kosmos 2534--27 May, 2019
Kosmos 2529--03 Nov, 2018
Kosmos 2527--16 Jun, 2018


Satellite NameOrbit Date
Navstar 82Medium Earth Orbit19 Jan, 2023
Navstar 81Medium Earth Orbit17 Jun, 2021
Navstar 78Medium Earth Orbit22 Aug, 2019
Navstar 77Medium Earth Orbit23 Dec, 2018
Navstar 76Medium Earth Orbit05 Feb, 2016
Navstar 75Medium Earth Orbit31 Oct, 2015
Navstar 74Medium Earth Orbit15 Jul, 2015
Navstar 73Medium Earth Orbit25 Mar, 2015
Navstar 72Medium Earth Orbit29 Oct, 2014
Navstar 71Medium Earth Orbit02 Aug, 2014


Satellite NameOrbit Date
NVS-01Geostationary Orbit (GEO)29 May, 2023
IRNSS-1IInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)12 Apr, 2018
IRNSS-1HSub Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (Sub-GTO)31 Aug, 2017
IRNSS-1GGeostationary Orbit (GEO)28 Apr, 2016
IRNSS-1FGeostationary Orbit (GEO)10 Mar, 2016
IRNSS-1EGeosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)20 Jan, 2016
IRNSS-1DInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)28 Mar, 2015
IRNSS-1CGeostationary Orbit (GEO)16 Oct, 2014
IRNSS-1BInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)04 Apr, 2014
IRNSS-1AInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)01 Jul, 2013