Amazon Secures United Launch Alliance’s Proven Atlas V Rocket for Nine Project Kuiper Launches

Northrop Grumman’s GEM 63 rocket motors propel the launch of United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V on Nov. 13, 2020. (Credit: Northrop Grumman)

Atlas V provides important reliability and schedule assurance in launch agreement

Centennial, Colo., April 19, 2021 (ULA PR) – United Launch Alliance (ULA) announced today that Amazon has secured Atlas V for nine launches supporting deployment of its ambitious Project Kuiper initiative. Project Kuiper is an initiative that will increase global broadband access through a constellation of 3,236 advanced satellites in low earth orbit.  

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NASA Adds United Launch Alliance Vulcan Centaur Rocket to Launch Services Program Catalog

Artist’s conception of Vulcan Centaur rocket. (Credit: ULA)

ULA’s next generation rocket to compete for future NASA launches

CENTENNIAL, Colo., April 15, 2021 (ULA PR) – NASA’s Launch Services Program (LSP) has added United Launch Alliance’s next generation rocket, the Vulcan Centaur, to the NASA Launch Services II (NLS) indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract in accordance with the on-ramp provision of NLS II.

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Last Delivery of Russian RD-180 Engines Under Current Contract for ULA’s Atlas V Launch Vehicle

RD-180 test firing. (Credit: NASA)

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — On Wednesday, April 14, 2021, at the Academician V.P. Glushko (part of the Roscosmos State Corporation), six RD-180 engines were handed over to American customers. Representatives of the companies Pratt & Whitney, United Launch Alliance, EP AMROSS signed the forms for the engines.

For two weeks prior to the transfer of products, representatives of these companies, as well as NASA and the US Air Force, performed an external examination of engines, spare parts and accessories, as well as a review of accompanying documentation. 

This acceptance is the first since the beginning of the pandemic, which has made its own adjustments to the schedule of supplies abroad. The engines are currently being prepared for shipment. 

The current delivery will be the last under the current contract. In total, within the framework of more than twenty years of cooperation, NPO Energomash has supplied 122 commercial RD-180 engines to the United States.

The RD-180 liquid-propellant rocket engine is designed and manufactured by NPO Energomash. Designed for use as part of the American Atlas V launch vehicles.

Final RS-68A Engine for Delta IV Heavy Completes Hot-fire Acceptance Test

Aerojet Rocketdyne’s RS-68A rocket engine successfully completed its final acceptance test April 12, 2021, on the B-1 test stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. The RS-68A powers the United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket to send critical spacecraft into orbit. (Credit: NASA Stennis)

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) — Today (April 12), the world’s most powerful hydrogen-fueled rocket engine built by Aerojet Rocketdyne, the RS-68A, completed its final hot-fire acceptance test for use on the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Heavy launch vehicle on the B-1 Test Stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

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NOAA’s GOES-T Weather Satellite Completes Critical Testing in Preparation for December 2021 Launch

DENVER (NOAA PR) — NOAA’s GOES-T, the third in a series of advanced geostationary weather satellites, recently completed rigorous testing to ensure it can withstand the harsh conditions of launch and orbiting in space 22,236 miles above Earth.

During thermal vacuum testing, GOES-T was placed in a large 29 feet x 65 feet chamber and subjected to a vast range of temperatures, soaring as high as 188 degrees Fahrenheit (87 degrees Celsius) and dropping as low as minus 67 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 55 degrees Celsius) to simulate the extreme temperatures of launch and the space environment.

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SpaceX, ULA Win U.S. Air Force Launch Contracts

The U.S. Air Force has awarded contracts to SpaceX and United Launch Alliance (ULA) for two launches each under its National Security Space Launch Phase 2 agreements.

SpaceX will receive $159,721,445 to launch the USSF-36 and NROL-69 missions from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The launches are expected to be completed by the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2023.

ULA will receive $224,290,000 for launching the USSF-112 and USSF-87 missions from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The launches are expected to be completed by the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2023.

Last year, SpaceX and ULA won U.S. Air Force contracts to launch defense payloads for 2022-27.

Lunar Traffic to Pick Up as NASA Readies for Robotic Commercial Moon Deliveries

This photograph of a nearly full Moon was taken from the Apollo 8 spacecraft at a point above 70 degrees east longitude. Mare Crisium, the circular, dark-colored area near the center, is near the eastern edge of the Moon as viewed from Earth. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA is working on various science instruments and technology experiments from the agency that will operate on the Moon once American companies on Commercial Lunar Payload Services  (CLPS) contracts deliver them to the lunar surface. Through CLPS flights, NASA is buying a complete commercial robotic lunar delivery service and does not provide launch services, own the lander or lead landing operations.

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United Launch Alliance Modifies Launch Pad and Facilities in Advance of First Vulcan Centaur Launch This Year

The VLP emerges from the SPOC for rollout to Space Launch Complex-41. (Credit: United Launch Alliance)

CAPE CANAVERAL SPACE FORCE STATION, Fla., Feb. 2, 2021 (ULA PR) – United Launch Alliance (ULA) has modified Space Launch Complex-41 and the processing facilities in support of Vulcan Centaur’s inaugural launch later this year. The multi-year project to prepare for the larger and more capable launch vehicle culminated in the new mobile launch platform being rolled to the launch pad for final testing.

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Starliner Orbit Flight Test 2 Now Targeted for NET March 25

The Orbital Flight Test Starliner being processed by technicians after return from White Sands Missile Range. (Credit: Boeing)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (Boeing PR) — NASA and Boeing are targeting no earlier than Thursday, March 25, for the launch of Starliner’s second uncrewed flight test as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) is a critical developmental milestone on the company’s path to fly crew missions for NASA. Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner is designed, built, tested and flown by a team committed to safely, reliably and sustainably transporting astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

The target launch date is enabled by an opening on the Eastern Range; the availability of the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket; steady progress on hardware and software; and an International Space Station docking opportunity.

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Astrobotic Completes Successful Testing with NASA’s Water Detecting Payloads

A rendering of Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander is shown, with NASA’s three water-detecting payloads (MSolo, NSS, and NIRVSS) highlighted in blue. (Credit: Astrobotic Technology)

PITTSBURGH (Astrobotic PR) — Three of NASA’s payloads set to fly aboard Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander in 2021 have successfully completed preliminary interface simulation testing between Astrobotic, NASA’s Ames Research Center, and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center payload teams.

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ULA Successfully Launches NROL-44 Mission to Support National Security

A Delta IV Heavy launches the NROL-44 satellite. (Credit: ULA)

CAPE CANAVERAL SPACE FORCE BASE, Fla., (Dec. 11, 2020) – A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Heavy rocket carrying the NROL-44 mission for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) lifted off from Space Launch Complex-37 on Dec. 10 at 8:09 p.m. EST. To date ULA has launched 142 times with 100 percent mission success.

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NASA and Boeing Target New Launch Date for Next Starliner Flight Test

Starliner OFT-1 capsule after landing at White Sands Missile Range. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Boeing Mission Update
December 9, 2020

NASA and Boeing are targeting March 29 for the launch of Starliner’s second uncrewed flight test to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) is a critical developmental milestone on the company’s path toward flying crew missions for NASA.

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Northrop Grumman Rocket Boosters Help Successfully Launch United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V

Northrop Grumman’s GEM 63 rocket motors propel the launch of United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V on Nov. 13, 2020. (Credit: Northrop Grumman)

MAGNA, Utah, Nov. 13, 2020 (Northrop Grumman PR) – Three of Northrop Grumman Corporation’s (NYSE: NOC) 63-inch-diameter Graphite Epoxy Motors (GEM 63) rocket boosters were used for the first time today to help successfully launch and deploy the National Reconnaissance Office launch 101 (NROL-101) on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V launch vehicle.

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ULA Successfully Launches NROL-101 Mission for National Reconnaissance Office

An Atlas V rocket launches the NROL-101 satellite. (Credit: ULA)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla., Nov. 13, 2020 (ULA PR) – A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the NROL-101 mission for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) lifted off on Nov. 13 at 5:32 p.m. EST from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

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Senate Appropriations Committee Sticks a Fork in NASA’s 2024 Moon Landing Plan

Artemis Gateway (Credit: Thales Alenia Space/Briot)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

It looks as if the Trump Administration’s goal of landing astronauts on the moon in 2024 is expiring at about the same time as the administration itself. The fatal blow is being struck by Congress, not the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden.

The Senate Appropriations Committee has released a fiscal year 2021 funding bill that includes $1 billion for NASA to Human Landing System (HLS) that will take astronauts to and from the lunar surface as part of the Artemis program. The amount is far short of the $3.2 billion that NASA has said is needed for HLS to keep the 2024 landing on schedule.

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