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.

Air Force Doubts New ULA Engine Can Be Ready by 2019

Atlas V launch of WorldView-3 satellite (Credit: ULA)
Atlas V launch of WorldView-3 satellite (Credit: ULA)

U.S. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee Jones told a Senate committee this week that it would be difficult to develop a new rocket motor to replace the Atlas V’s Russian-produced RD-180 by the the 2019 deadline established by Congress.

“Because this,” James said, “is rocket science.”

James said the technical experts she’s spoken with estimate that it would take six to eight years to build a new engine and another year or two to integrate it into the launch vehicle. If those estimates are right, it would push the first use of a new engine well into the 2020s.

The Air Force has not decided what engine to fund to replace the RD-180, which powers the Atlas V’s first stage. United Launch Alliance, which builds the launch vehicle, has announced a partnership with Blue Origin to develop the BE4 engine.

The Atlas V is used almost exclusively to launch defense payloads. Replacing the RD-180 has become a priority given deteriorating ties between the United States and Russia.

In series of Tweets, ULA President and CEO Tory Bruno said he expects the first flight of the BE4 engine to occur in 2019. The new engine and rocket would be certified in 2022-23 for launching national security payloads.

“Developing an American engine by 2019, cert in 2022-23, is an aggressive schedule,” Bruno wrote. “The existing law leaves us no flexibility.”

“No, we cannot realistically accelerate certification to 2019. 2022-23 already has risk,” he said in another Tweet.

Triumph & Tragedy: The Year in Commercial Space 2014 (Part I)

Part of SpaceShipTwo's fuselage. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)
Part of SpaceShipTwo’s fuselage. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

The year 2014 was one of steady progress and major setbacks in commercial space. Here is a rundown of some of the major developments and trends of the year. A later will look more closely at some of the companies in the industry.

A Crash in the Desert. The tragic loss of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo and death of Scaled Composites test pilot Mike Alsbury on Oct. 31 sent shock waves through the space community. The ship was ripped apart over the Mojave Desert about 13 seconds into a powered flight test when its twin tail booms suddenly deployed. Pilot Pete Siebold was thrown free of the wreckage and landed under parachute, battered and bruised but alive.

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Year in Review: Launch Industry Disrupted in 2014

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SpaceX Founder Elon Musk has long talked about disrupting the launch industry with low prices and technological innovations. In 2014, the impacts of those efforts were felt far and wide as competitors responded to the threat the California company posed to their livelihoods.

ULA Pivots. With SpaceX reeling off one successful launch after another, ULA pivoted on several fronts. One was to announce efforts to significantly reduce costs on its highly reliable but pricey Atlas V and Delta IV boosters. But, even that proved to be insufficient as SpaceX threatened ULA on several fronts.

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CSF, Space Florida Praise ULA/Blue Origin Engine Venture

csf_logo_newestThe Commercial Spaceflight Federation Applauds  Blue Origin/ULA Engine Development Partnership

Washington D.C. (CSF PR) – The Commercial Spaceflight Federation congratulates Blue Origin on their partnership with United Launch Alliance to jointly fund the development of their new BE-4 rocket engine. The agreement includes a four-year development process with full scale testing in 2016 and first flight in 2019.

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