United Launch Alliance Set to Launch the CST-100 Starliner Spacecraft on Orbital Flight Test-2

An Atlas V rocket carrying the AEHF-6 mission for the U.S Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center lifts off from Space Launch Complex-41 at 4:18 p.m. EDT on March 26, 2020. (Credit: United Launch Alliance)

CAPE CANAVERAL SPACE FORCE STATION, Fla. (United Launch Alliance PR) — A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket is in final preparations to launch Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft on the Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) to the International Space Station (ISS) for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The launch is planned for Thurs. May 19 at 6:54 p.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The live launch broadcast begins no earlier than 6 p.m. EDT on May 19 at www.ulalaunch.com.

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ULA Names Chris Ellerhorst Vice President, Kuiper Program

Chris Ellerhorst (Credit: ULA)

ULA Establishes New Program Office to Support Amazon Commercial Launches

CENTENNIAL, Colo., May 16, 2022 (ULA PR) – United Launch Alliance (ULA) announced today it is establishing a new customer program office to support Amazon’s Kuiper Program and named Chris Ellerhorst vice president.

“Following the contract announcement that ULA will be launching the majority of Amazon’s Kuiper constellation on nine Atlas and 38 Vulcan launch vehicles, we are standing up a new program office to support this customer,” said Tory Bruno, ULA’s president and CEO. “Chris’ extensive knowledge of customer requirements, his commitment to ensuring mission success as well as his unwavering dedication to serving the customer’s needs make him the perfect person to lead this new program office.”

“I am truly honored to lead ULA’s new program office for Project Kuiper,” said Ellerhorst. “Amazon is an important customer with an exciting and meaningful mission, and I look forward to bringing ULA’s unmatched launch service capabilities, industry-leading mission operations and assurance to this program – delivered by the most experienced workforce in the industry.”

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Atlas V to Launch Starliner OFT-2 Mission on Thursday

The Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is lifted at the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on May 4, 2022, ahead of its second Orbital Flight Test (OFT-2) to the International Space Station for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. (Credits: NASA/Frank Michaux)

United Launch Alliance Mission Information

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket will launch Boeing’s Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 Starliner spacecraft on its Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) to the International Space Station. OFT-2 is the second uncrewed flight of the Starliner that will demonstrate the spacecraft’s human transportation capabilities. This test flight is the last major step before the Atlas V and Boeing’s Starliner capsule take American astronauts to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Launch Date and Time: Thursday, May 19, 2022 at 6:54 p.m. EDT (2254 UTC)
Webcast: Begins May 19 at 6 p.m. EDT (2200 UTC)

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Join the Virtual NASA Social to Experience Starliner’s Uncrewed Flight Test to Space Station

The Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is lifted at the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on May 4, 2022, ahead of its second Orbital Flight Test (OFT-2) to the International Space Station for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. (Credits: NASA/Frank Michaux)

CAPE CANAVERAL SPACE FORCE STATION, Fla. (NASA PR) — Social media users are invited to register to take part in a global virtual NASA Social for the agency’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) to the International Space Station. This is the second uncrewed flight test of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

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Coverage Set for NASA’s Boeing OFT-2 Briefings, Events, Broadcast

The Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is lifted at the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on May 4, 2022, ahead of its second Orbital Flight Test (OFT-2) to the International Space Station for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. (Credits: NASA/Frank Michaux)

NASA Mission Update

NASA will provide coverage of the upcoming prelaunch, launch, and docking activities for the agency’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) to the International Space Station. Scheduled to launch at 6:54 p.m. EDT on Thursday, May 19, OFT-2 is the second uncrewed flight for Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

The Starliner spacecraft will launch on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. About 31 minutes after launch, the Starliner will reach its preliminary orbit. It is scheduled to dock to the space station at 7:10 p.m. on Friday, May 20. Prelaunch activities, launch, and docking will air live on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

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AFA Congratulates StellarXplorers VIII Champions

Team Panther #3 from Palos Verdes Peninsula High School in Rolling Hills Estates, Calif., pose with AFA President Lt. Gen. Bruce “Orville” Wright, USAF (Ret.) and Space Force Maj. Gen. Shawn Bratton after winning the StellarXplorers VIII Competition on April 23, 2022.

ARLINGTON, Va. (Air & Space Forces Association PR) — AFA’s StellarXplorers Space STEM program capped its eighth season by declaring Team Panther #3 from Palos Verdes Peninsula High School in Rolling Hills Estates, Calif., the champion of its National Space Design Competition Finals held at Space Center Houston.

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United Launch Alliance IAM Employees Approve New Contract

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (United Launch Alliance PR) — Members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) have accepted the company’s new three-year contract offer. This concludes the 2022 contract negotiation process that began several weeks ago.

The new contract covers more than 600 bargaining unit employees from District Lodges #75 and #166, which includes Locals #44, #610 and #2786 performing work on the Atlas V, Delta IV and Vulcan Centaur product lines at both East and West Coast ULA launch sites and the Decatur, Alabama, manufacturing facility. The contract became effective at 12:01 a.m. on May 2. Negotiations on the new contract officially started April 11 and ended April 21, and the May 1 ratification vote was held in all geographical locations covered by this contract. 

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Aerojet Rocketdyne Secures Largest RL10 Engine Contract From United Launch Alliance

Aerojet Rocketdyne recently completed successful hot-fire testing of a full-scale, additively manufactured thrust chamber assembly for the RL10 rocket engine at its West Palm Beach, Florida facility. (Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne)

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) – United Launch Alliance (ULA) recently awarded the largest RL10 contract ever to Aerojet Rocketdyne to deliver 116 RL10C-X engines for its Vulcan Centaur rocket. The new engines will support ULA as it works to fulfill its commitments under a contract they recently received from Amazon, as part of the largest commercial launch contract in history, to support the launch of its Kuiper satellite constellation.

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Amazon Selects Blue Origin’s New Glenn for up to 27 Project Kuiper Constellation Launches

New Glenn on the launch pad. (Credit: Blue Origin)

KENT, Wash. (Blue Origin PR) — Blue Origin today announced New Glenn has been selected for 12 launches, with options for up to 15 additional launches to deploy Amazon’s Project Kuiper satellite constellation. Project Kuiper’s constellation of 3,236 advanced satellites aims to deliver high-speed, low-latency broadband service globally. The launches are manifested for a five-year period from Launch Complex 36 (LC-36) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, which Blue Origin has rebuilt from the ground up.  

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Amazon Signs Contract with United Launch Alliance for 38 Project Kuiper Launches on Vulcan Centaur

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

CENTENNIAL, Colo., April 5, 2022 (ULA PR) – United Launch Alliance (ULA) announced today that Amazon has selected its next-generation Vulcan rocket for 38 launches supporting deployment for its ambitious Project Kuiper, Amazon’s initiative to increase global broadband access through a constellation of 3,236 advanced satellites in low Earth orbit. 

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Rogozin Courts Chinese Cooperation on ExoMars, Space Station

Vladimir Putin receives a briefing from Roscosmos General Director Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: Office of the Russian President)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The Chinese government-owned CGTN website has an interview with Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin. With relations severely damaged with the West due to sanctions imposed over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Roscosmos is increasingly focused on deepening cooperation with China’s surging space program. The partnership already includes jointly developing a crewed base on the moon in the 2030s.

On the suspended ExoMars mission with Europe, Rogozin said:

“In the construction of ExoMars, the main element is the landing module. The Mars research rover is not the essential element. I think we can make this mission happen with another partner like China or someone else.”

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SpaceX to Launch Rival OneWeb’s Broadband Satellites

Falcon 9 launches 53 Starlink satellites from Cape Canaveral. (Credit: SpaceX)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

OneWeb announced this morning that it will resume launches of its broadband satellite constellation with SpaceX, which is deploying its rival Starlink broadband satellite network. The agreement comes after OneWeb terminated a contract to continue launching on Soyuz boosters in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

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NOAA’s GOES-T Reaches Geostationary Orbit, Now Designated GOES-18

Illustration of the GOES-T spacecraft with Earth’s reflection. (Credits: Lockheed Martin)

SILVER SPRING, Md. (NOAA PR) — On March 14, 2022, GOES-T executed its final engine burn, placing the satellite in geostationary orbit 22,236 miles above Earth. Upon reaching this milestone, GOES-T was renamed GOES-18. GOES satellites are designated with a letter prior to launch and a number once they achieve geostationary orbit.

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The Dmitry Daily: Rogozin Again Threatens Existence of International Space Station if U.S. Remains Hostile to Russian Invasion of Ukraine

This report from the Kremlin-backed RT news channel has extensive comments from Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin, including a threat to end the International Space Station project. He said he didn’t expect it would happen because he beliefs the U.S. will cool down over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Rogozin has also been busy on Twitter. He tweeted a short video showing workers taping over national flags painted on a Soyuz 2-1.b rocket with 36 OneWeb satellites aboard that was erected on a launch pad at Baikonur Cosmodrome. The launch had been scheduled for Friday. On Thursday, London-based OneWeb announced it was suspending all launches of its spacecraft from Baikonur.

Translation via Twitter: The launchers at Baikonur decided that without the flags of some countries, our rocket would look more beautiful.

Other Recent Tweets
(Translated from Russian)

Rogozin Tweet

Roskosmos will not service the remaining 24 RD-180 engines in the US, and the RD-181 will stop deliveries.

Editor’s note: The RD-180 rocket engines power United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket. Rogozin was referring to Russian personnel who support the launches. Two RD-181 engines power the first stage of Northrop Grumman’s Antares booster that launches Cygnus resupply ships to the space station.

Rogozin Tweet

In the context of the announced sanctions, Roscosmos will reconsider its priorities and focus on achieving full import independence in matters of space instrumentation. The main design, technological and financial resources released from joint ventures with the US and the EU international research projects, will now be directed to the creation of space systems exclusively for defense and dual purposes.

Roscosmos Tweet

The State Corporation will not cooperate with Germany on joint experiments on the Russian segment of the ISS. Roskosmos will conduct them independently.

Russian space program will be adjusted against the backdrop of sanctions, the priority will be the creation of satellites in the interests of defense.

Rogozin Sticks a Knife into Northrop Grumman’s Antares Rocket

Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket liftoff from pad 0A at 12:40 p.m. EST from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, on Feb. 19, 2022. The Cygnus spacecraft, carrying 8,300 pounds of science investigations and cargo, is scheduled to arrive at the space station on Monday, Feb. 21. (Credits: NASA Wallops/Allison Stancil)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin said Russia will no longer sell rocket engines to U.S. companies, dealing a potentially fatal blow to Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket. The decision was made in retaliation for U.S. sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last week.

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