ULA Continues to Shrink Workforce

United Launch Alliance continues to shrink its workforce as it seeks to become more competitive with SpaceX.

The Centennial-based rocketmaker, the largest space launch contractor to the federal government, is seeking voluntary departures to trim an unspecified number of positions….

The company shed 350 jobs last year through a combination of voluntary buyouts and layoffs and said last summer more cuts would be coming this year….

ULA employed about 3,750 in 2015, about 1,700 of them locally.

Last year, ULA suggested it could dip to about 3,000 employees by the end of 2017. Taking last year’s workforce reductions into account, that would suggest the company may eliminate 400 positions this year.

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Atlas V Launches U.S. Air Force Satellite

ULA_logoCAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla., Jan. 20, 2017 (ULA PR) – A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) GEO Flight 3 satellite lifted off from Space Launch Complex-41 Jan. 20 at 7:42 p.m. ET. SBIRS GEO Flight 3 is considered one of the nation’s highest priority space programs.

“ULA is proud to deliver this critical satellite which will improve surveillance capabilities for our national decision makers,” said Laura Maginnis, ULA vice president of Government Satellite Launch. “I can’t think of a better way to kick off the new year.”

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ULA Postpones NROL-79 Launch From Vandenberg

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the WorldView-4 spacecraft lifts off from Space Launch Complex-3 at Vandenberg Air Force Base. (Credit: ULA)
A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the WorldView-4 spacecraft lifts off from Space Launch Complex-3 at Vandenberg Air Force Base. (Credit: ULA)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (Jan. 16, 2017) – The launch date for a United Launch Alliance Atlas V carrying NROL-79 for the National Reconnaissance Office is under review.

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Atlas V Scheduled for Thursday Launch from Cape Canaveral

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)
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)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (ULA PR) — Everything is progressing toward the ULA Atlas V launch carrying the SBIRS GEO Flight 3 satellite. The mission is set to lift off on a ULA Atlas V rocket on Thursday, Jan. 19 from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The launch window 7:46-8:26 p.m. EST. Today’s L-4 forecast shows a 70 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for launch.

Weather Forecast

Overall probability of violating weather constraints: 30%
Primary concerns: Cumulus Clouds, Thick Clouds
Overall probability of violating weather constraints for 24 hour delay: 40%
Primary concerns: Cumulus Clouds, Thick Clouds

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Orbital Launch Statistics for 2016

The Soyuz MS-02 rocket is launched with Expedition 49 Soyuz commander Sergey Ryzhikov of Roscosmos, flight engineer Shane Kimbrough of NASA, and flight engineer Andrey Borisenko of Roscosmos, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Ryzhikov, Kimbrough, and Borisenko will spend the next four months living and working aboard the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)
The Soyuz MS-02 rocket is launched with Expedition 49 Soyuz commander Sergey Ryzhikov of Roscosmos, flight engineer Shane Kimbrough of NASA, and flight engineer Andrey Borisenko of Roscosmos, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. (Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

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There were 85 orbital launches in 2016, not including the Falcon 9 that exploded on launch pad prior to a pre-flight engine test. The launches break down as follow:

  • United States: 22 (22-0)
  • China: 22 (20-1-1)
  • Russia: 19 (18-1)
  • Europe: 9 (9-0)
  • India: 7 (7-0)
  • Japan: 4 (4-0)
  • Israel: 1 (1-0)
  • North Korea: 1 (1-0)

For a more detailed description of these launches, please read US, China Led World in Launches in 2016.

Let’s look at launches by booster and spaceport and the flights that were required for human spaceflight.
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USA, China Led World in Launches in 2016

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the OA-6 mission lifted off from Space Launch Complex 41. (Credit: ULA)
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the OA-6 mission lifted off from Space Launch Complex 41. (Credit: ULA)

Part 1 of 2

The United States and China led the world in orbital launch attempts in 2016 with 22 apiece. The combined 44 launches made up more than half of the 85 flights conducted around the world.

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ULA Settles Allegations Relating to Kickbacks Paid to Its Employees by Subcontractor

ULA_logoDENVER (US DOJ PR) – United Launch Alliance (“ULA”), a defense contractor, has paid the United States $100,000 to settle allegations that its employees were paid kickbacks by a subcontractor in order to induce ULA to award contracts to the subcontractor.

ULA is an aerospace company providing spacecraft launch services to primarily governmental clients. The United States alleged that between July 2011 and July 2015, the owner of a ULA subcontractor, Apriori Technologies, Inc. (“Apriori”), paid gratuities to certain ULA employees in order to induce ULA to award technology, compliance and project management related contracts to Apriori. The United States alleged that certain Apriori-awarded subcontracts resulted in higher costs being billed by ULA to the U.S. Air Force. ULA voluntarily disclosed the allegations of misconduct to the United States.

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Atlas V Launches Commercial Communications Satellite

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)
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)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla., Dec. 18, 2016 (ULA PR) – A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the EchoStar XIX satellite lifted off from Space Launch Complex-41 Dec. 18 at 2:13 p.m. ET. EchoStar XIX will dramatically increase capacity for HughesNet® high-speed satellite Internet service to homes and businesses in North America. Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services procured the Atlas V for this mission. This is ULA’s 12th launch in 2016 and the 115th successful launch since the company was formed in December 2006.

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Atlas V Set to Launch EchoStar XIX on Sunday

echostar-poster_smallULA Mission Update

Good evening – everything is progressing toward the ULA Atlas V launch carrying the EchoStar XIX satellite. The mission is set to lift off on a ULA Atlas V rocket on Sunday, Dec. 18 from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The launch window is 1:27-3:27 p.m. EST. Today’s L-3 forecast shows a 70 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for launch.

Weather Forecast

Overall probability of violating weather constraints: 30%
Primary concerns: Cumulus Clouds, Thick Clouds

Webcast available at www.ulalaunch.com and www.youtube.com/unitedlaunchalliance

Editor’s Note: This flight will be ULA’s 12th launch of the year and the 22nd and final American launch for 2016. SpaceX completed eight launches and Orbital ATK flew twice.

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ULA Delta IV Carries U.S. Air Force Satellite Into Orbit

A Delta IV rocket carries the WGS-8 satellite into orbit. (Credit: ULA)
A Delta IV rocket carries the WGS-8 satellite into orbit. (Credit: ULA)

Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., Dec. 7, 2016 (ULA PR) – A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket carrying the eighth installment of the Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) satellite for the United States Air Force lifted off from Space Launch Complex-37 Dec. 7 at 6:53 p.m. EDT. This is ULA’s 11th launch in 2016 and the 114th successful launch since the company was formed in December 2006.

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Delta IV Set to Launch Air Force Satellite on Wednesday Night

The U.S. Air Force's eighth Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) satellite, encapsulated in a 5-meter payload fairing, is mated to a Delta IV booster at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex (SLC)-37. (Credit: ULA)
The U.S. Air Force’s eighth Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) satellite, encapsulated in a 5-meter payload fairing, is mated to a Delta IV booster at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex (SLC)-37. (Credit: ULA)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (ULA PR) — Everything is progressing toward the ULA Delta IV launch carrying the WGS-8 satellite for the US Air Force. The mission is set to lift off on a ULA Delta IV rocket on Wednesday, Dec. 7 from Space Launch Complex-37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The launch window is 6:53-7:42 p.m. EST. Today’s L-2 forecast shows a 80 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for launch.

Webcast available at www.ulalaunch.com and www.youtube.com/unitedlaunchalliance

Weather Forecast

Overall probability of violating launch weather constraints: 20%
Primary concern: Thick Cloud Layers
Overall probability of violating launch weather constraints for 24-hour delay: 40%
Primary concern: Thick Cloud Layers

ULA Launches RocketBuilder Website

ula_rocketbuilder_site
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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Trump, Musk, Bezos, Bruno & the Future of America’s Space Program

Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)
Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)

There’s been a lot of speculation since the election on  what president-elect Donald Trump will do with the nation’s civilian and military space programs.

Two Trump advisors laid out some goals before the election: more commercial partnerships, boosting defense spending, increasing hypersonics and slashing NASA Earth science. However, most details remain unclear.

A key question is whether Trump really cares about space all that much. That’s a little hard to discern given his comments during  the campaign.

When first questioned on the subject, he expressed a preference for fixing potholes in America’s crumbling streets over sending people to Mars. Trump has promised a large infrastructure repair program.

During a visit to Florida, he attacked the Obama Administration for allegedly wrecking NASA and the space program. During another appearance in the Sunshine State about a week later, Trump praised the space agency for how well it was performing.

So, NASA is either doing great, a disaster that needs to be made great again, or an obstacle to pothole repair. Assuming Trump actually cares, and he’s willing to spend some money on making NASA great again, what might he do? What major decisions does he face?
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Atlas V Set to Launch Weather Satellite Saturday Evening

An Atlas V rocket, carrying NASA and NOAA’s GOES-R satellite stands ready for launch at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex-41. (Credit: ULA)
An Atlas V rocket, carrying NASA and NOAA’s GOES-R satellite stands ready for launch at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex-41. (Credit: ULA)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (ULA PR)– Everything is progressing toward the ULA Atlas V launch carrying the GOES-R spacecraft for NASA and NOAA.

The mission is set to lift off on a ULA Atlas V rocket on Saturday, Nov. 19 from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The launch window is 5:42-6:42 p.m. EST.  Live launch broadcast will begin on NASA TV at 4:45 p.m. EST.

Mission Description

GOES-R is the first of four satellites to be launched for NOAA in a new and advanced series of spacecraft. Once in geostationary orbit, it will be known as GOES-16. Compared with today’s geostationary satellites, GOES-R will scan the Earth five times faster at four times image resolution and triple the number of channels scientists can tap into to observe global weather and climate. GOES-R will support short-term forecasts and severe storm watches and warnings, maritime forecasts, seasonal predictions, drought outlooks and space weather predictions. The satellite also will improve hurricane tracking and intensity forecasts, increase thunderstorm and tornado warning lead time, improve aviation flight route planning, and provide data for long-term climate variability studies.

In addition to weather forecasting, GOES-R carries a transponder to detect distress signals from emergency beacons on aircraft, boats/ships and carried by individuals as part of the Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking (SARSAT) system.

Weather Forecast

Overall probability of violating weather constraints: 10%
Primary concern: Cumulus Clouds
Overall probability of violating weather constraints for 24 hour delay: 10%
Primary concern: Cumulus Clouds