ULA Slashes Atlas V Price

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying EchoStar XIX satellite lifts off from Space Launch Complex-41 at 2:13 p.m. ET. (Credit: United Launch Alliance/Lockheed Martin)

ULA has cut the price of its least expensive launch vehicle, the Atlas V, by more than one third.

“We’re seeing that price is even more important than it had been in the past,” Tory Bruno, chief executive of United Launch Alliance, or ULA, said during an interview at the U.S. Space Symposium in Colorado Springs.

“We’re dropping the cost of Atlas almost every day. Atlas is now down more than a third in its cost,” Bruno said.

As of December 2016, a baseline Atlas 5 rocket launch was selling for about $109 million, though satellite operators can make up at least half that cost by getting more favorable insurance rates and other factors, including an on-time launch, ULA has said.

In contrast, Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, lists the base price of a Falcon 9 rocket launch on its website at $62 million.

Read the full story.

ULA Leaning Toward BE-4 Engine for Vulcan as Crucial Engine Tests Loom

BE-4 staged combustion testing (Credit: Blue Origin)

In what is likely a surprise to no one, United Launch Alliance’s CEO said this week the company is leaning toward selecting Blue Origin’s BE-4 engine in the first stage of its new Vulcan rocket — providing upcoming engine tests go well.

That would leave rival Aerojet Rocketdyne and its AR1 engine without a booster to fly on.

In an interview during the 33rd Space Symposium here, Tory Bruno said that tests of the BE-4 engine, scheduled to begin “very soon” at Blue Origin’s test site in West Texas, are the last major hurdle the engine must clear before ULA decides to use it on Vulcan.
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ULA Launches RocketBuilder Website

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WASHINGTON, D.C.,  Nov. 30, 2016 (ULA PR)
– United Launch Alliance (ULA) announced its new, innovative website today that enhances the way customers shop for launch services and sets a new standard for pricing transparency. It also provides insight into reliability, schedule assurance and performance, allowing users to make a true value comparison.

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ULA Sought to Delay USAF Satellite Bids After SpaceX Launch Pad Accident

ULA_logoULA sought to have the U.S. Air Force delay bids on an upcoming GPS III satellite launch by 60 days in the wake of SpaceX’s loss of a Falcon 9 and its payload earlier this month, The Washington Post reports.

Tory Bruno, ULA’s chief executive, urged the Air Force to postpone the deadline for bids, saying it should take time to explore the impact of SpaceX’s rocket failure while also taking into account both companies’ experience and past performance.

The Pentagon should have particular reservations, Bruno wrote, given that two of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets have blown up, which he said “serve as a reminder of the complexity and hazards intrinsic to space launch services.”

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Even Deeper Staff Cuts Ahead for ULA

ULA_logoUnited Launch Alliance (ULA) will cut up to 875 jobs through 2017 in order to compete with SpaceX.

CEO Tory Bruno on Wednesday said Centennial-based ULA plans to reduce its workforce by another 400 to 500 people next year.

“We have this year’s 375,” Bruno said. “There will be another one at the end of next year that’s a bit larger but along the same order of magnitude. And then we’re done.”

The reductions in 2017 will be spread across all five of ULA’s sites, he said. Those are in Colorado, California, Texas, Alabama and Washington, D.C.

ULA currently employs 3,400 people, with about 1,500 in Colorado.

 

ULA & Bigelow to Announce New Partnership on Monday

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Bigelow Aerospace Founder and President Robert Bigelow and ULA CEO Tory Bruno to Address Media at 4 p.m. MT

What: Media are invited to participate in a news conference on Monday, April 11, at 4 p.m. MT, during which Bigelow Aerospace Founder and President Robert Bigelow and United Launch Alliance (ULA) CEO Tory Bruno will announce a new partnership.

Since 1999 Bigelow Aerospace’s mission has been to provide affordable destinations for national space agencies and corporate clients. In 2006 and 2007, the company launched orbiting prototypes Genesis I and Genesis II. Bigelow Aerospace seeks to assist human exploration and the discovery of beneficial resources, whether in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), on the moon, in deep space or on Mars.

ULA is the nation’s premier launch services company and is transforming the future of space launch through its innovative new rocket and technology, while significantly reduce the cost of launch services. This partnership will continue making space more accessible for the future.

Where: The news conference will take place at the 32nd Space Symposium, which is held at The Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Media currently registered for the Symposium are invited to attend in person. The press conference will be held on the second floor of the International Center in the Media Center.

Remote participants are invited to watch via webcast: http://www.ulalaunch.com

ULA CEO Tory Bruno Visits The Space Show on Tuesday

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This week on The Space Show with Dr. David Livingston:

1. Monday, January 4, 2016: 2-3:30 PM PST (5-6:30 PM EST; 4-5:30 PM CST): MARK HOPKINS is back with us to discuss novel ideas for interstellar settlement. ..

2. Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016,7-8:30 PM PST (10-11:30 PM EST, 9-10:30 PM CST): We welcome TORY BRUNO, CEO of ULA.

3. Friday, January 8, 2016, 2016; 9:30 -11 AM PST (12:30-2 PM EST; 11:30-1 PM CST) We welcome back Dr. Henry Hertzfeld of the Space Policy Institute at GWU..

4. Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016: 12-1:30 PM PST (3-4:30 PM EST, 2-3:30 PM CST): The Great Cislunar Debate with DR. DOUG PLATA AND JOHN STRICKLAND..

ULA Offers Free CubeSat Flights, Expand Payload Slots

ULA_logoCENTENNIAL, Colo., Nov. 19, 2015 (ULA PR) – As the most experienced launch company in the nation, United Launch Alliance (ULA) announced today it is taking CubeSat rideshares to the next level by launching a new, innovative program offering universities the chance to compete for free CubeSat rides on future launches.

“ULA will offer universities the chance to compete for at least six CubeSat launch slots on two Atlas V missions, with a goal to eventually add university CubeSat slots to nearly every Atlas and Vulcan launch,” said Tory Bruno, ULA president and CEO. “There is a growing need for universities to have access and availability to launch their CubeSats and this program will transform the way these universities get to space by making space more affordable and accessible.”

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ULA Announces New Management Team

ULA_logoCENTENNIAL, Colo., Oct. 27, 2015 (ULA PR) – Today United Launch Alliance (ULA) announced its new executive leadership team that will lead the company’s transformation, maintain focus on mission success and develop ULA’s new launch vehicle Vulcan.

“As we work to transform the way ULA does business, and in turn, the launch services business as a whole, it is critical to ensure we have exceptional people leading this company into the future,” said Tory Bruno, president and chief executive officer. “This reorganization will align ULA to position our product line to support emerging market needs, continue to drive out cost, and maintain our strong record of reliability and mission success.”

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Pentagon Denies ULA Request for Atlas V Engine Waiver

An United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the NROL-55 mission lifted off from Space Launch Complex 3 at 5:49 a.m. PDT. (Credit: ULA)
An United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the NROL-55 mission lifted off from Space Launch Complex 3 at 5:49 a.m. PDT. (Credit: ULA)

On Friday, the Pentagon denied a request from United Launch Alliance for a waiver from a U.S. law that limits the use of the Russian-made RD-180 engine in the first stage of the company’s Atlas V rocket for military and reconnaissance launches.

ULA, the monopoly provider of such launches since its creation in 2006, has said it needs the waiver to compete against privately held Space Exploration Technologies Corp, or SpaceX, in a new U.S. Air Force competition for satellite launches. Bids are due for the competition by Nov. 16.

The U.S. Defense Department said it would continue to monitor the situation, and was looking at a range of options, including possible sole-source contract awards, to keep both companies in business and ensure more than one supplier was available in the event of failures.

Prompted by Russia’s annexation of Crimea last year, U.S. lawmakers banned the use of Russian RD-180 rocket engines for military and spy satellite launches after 2019….

The ban affects nine of 29 engines that ULA ordered but had not paid for before Russia annexed Crimea. Bruno said five other engines approved for ULA’s use by Congress last year were needed for commercial or civil missions, and were unavailable for use in a bid for the new GPS launch.

Read the full story.

ULA to Launch Second Orbital ATK Cygnus Cargo Ship

The Cygnus Pressurized Cargo Module for the OA-4 mission arrived at the Kennedy Space Centerfor processing in preparation for the upcoming CRS space station resupply mission to be launched from Florida in early December. (Credit: Orbital ATK)
The Cygnus Pressurized Cargo Module for the OA-4 mission arrived at the Kennedy Space Centerfor processing in preparation for the upcoming CRS space station resupply mission to be launched from Florida in early December. (Credit: Orbital ATK)

CENTENNIAL, Colo., Aug. 12, 2015 (ULA PR) – United Launch Alliance (ULA) will launch a second Cygnus cargo mission to the International Space Station (ISS) under a contract with Orbital ATK to support NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) program. The first ULA Atlas launch of a Cygnus cargo mission, OA-4, is set to lift off in early December 2015.

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ULA Lays off 12 Executives

ULA_logoLooks like heads are beginning to roll at ULA under new CEO Tory Bruno:

United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) and Boeing Co (BA.N), on Friday said it was cutting its executive ranks by 30 percent in December through what it called voluntary departures by 12 executives.

Tory Bruno, chief executive of the venture, told Reuters in an emailed statement the layoffs were part of ULA’s ongoing efforts to adapt to what he called “an increasingly competitive business environment” and redesign its leadership team.

ULA, formed by the two largest U.S. weapons makers in 2006, has long been the sole company able to launch U.S. military and intelligence satellites into orbit, but the Air Force expects to certify a new rival, privately-held Space Exploration Technologies, to compete for some of those launches next month.

The company is also under pressure from a new law that limits its use of the Russian RD-180 rocket engines that power its Atlas 5 launch vehicles after 2019. Congress passed the law after Russia annexed the Crimea region of Ukraine last year.

Read the full story.

 

Busy Monday Set for America’s Launch Providers

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Monday will be a busy day for two of America’s top launch providers.

The sixth SpaceX Dragon cargo mission to the International Space Station under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract is scheduled to launch on Monday at 4:33 p.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. NASA Television coverage of the launch begins at 3:30 p.m. EDT.

SpaceX will make another attempt to land the Falcon 9 first stage on a off-shore barge. There is currently a 60 percent chance of acceptable weather for the launch.

Meanwhile, United Launch Alliance CEO Tory Bruno will unveil plans for its Next Generation Launch System on Monday at 4 p.m. during the 31st National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colo.  Bruno will also announce the name of the booster, which was determined after a public vote in which more than one million votes were cast.

ULA will webcast the press conference at http://www.ulalaunch.com.

ULA Plans to Phase Out Delta IV

Delta IV Heavy lifts off with Orion capsule. (Credit: Lockheed Martin, United Launch Alliance)
Delta IV Heavy lifts off with Orion capsule. (Credit: Lockheed Martin, United Launch Alliance)

Space News reports on ULA’s future plans for its launch vehicles:

United Launch Alliance intends to phase out all but the heavy-lift version of its Delta 4 rocket as early as 2018 as it seeks to sharpen its competitiveness in the face of a challenge by SpaceX.

Denver-based ULA will continue building the Delta 4 Heavy as long as its Air Force customer desires, said Tory Bruno, the company’s president chief executive. The vehicle, whose first stage consists of three Delta 4 cores in a side-by-side configuration, is used to launch classified national security payloads but flies infrequently — roughly once every few years….

In a March 2 interview, Bruno, said both rockets ultimately will be replaced by a new launch vehicle currently known as the Next Generation Launch System, or NGLS. The NGLS will be powered by a new main engine now under development.

Bruno has said the BE-4 could debut on the NGLS by 2019 but that the vehicle would not be certified to carry national security payloads until 2022 or 2023.

In the interview, Bruno said he hoped Congress would change the language to allow continued use of the RD-180 until a replacement is ready.

Congress recently passed legislation calling for ULA to end the use of Russian-provided RD-180 engines in the Atlas by 2019.