United Launch Alliance (ULA) has proposed its Vulcan Centaur rocket for the second phase of the US Air Force’s (USAF) Launch Services competition.

The company is developing the first Vulcan Centaur rocket at its factory in Decatur, Alabama.

The rocket is on schedule for delivery to the launch site at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida next year and a planned first launch in 2021, ULA said.

ULA president and CEO Tory Bruno said: “Atlas and Delta rockets have been the backbone of national security space launch for decades, building on a progressive history of technology development and advancement, Vulcan Centaur will advance this rich heritage.

“Following the successful launch of our 134th mission just last week on our Atlas rocket, we submitted our purpose-built Vulcan Centaur rocket for the US Air Force’s Phase 2 Launch Services competition. It is so exciting to see the first flight vehicle coming together at our factory.”

Last year, the USAF awarded three Launch Services Agreements to Blue Origin, Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems, and ULA to develop launch vehicles.

The contract awarded to Blue Origin was for the development of the New Glenn Launch System, while the one to Northrop Grumman was for the OmegA Launch System.

The service will select two launch service providers for future procurements. Phase 2 is the next stage of the competition.

In May this year, a request for proposals was released for the Phase 2 launch service contract.

Bruno added: “The nation is facing a contested space environment, and we are unleashing the energy of American ingenuity by developing Vulcan Centaur to meet our nation’s need for expanding space missions.

“Vulcan Centaur’s flight-proven design, coupled with innovative technology, is transforming the future of space launch and will advance America’s superiority in space.”