Tag Archives: United Launch Alliance

Combat support

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 December 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.

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 lifts off from Space Launch Complex-37
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 lifts off from Space Launch Complex-37

«Thank you to the U.S. Air Force and industry team whose flawless execution enabled today’s successful launch of the WGS-8 mission», said Laura Maginnis, ULA vice president of Custom Services. «Last week ULA celebrated our anniversary and 10 years of 100% mission success. This evening’s launch epitomizes why our customers continue to entrust ULA to deliver our nation’s most crucial space capabilities».

This mission was launched aboard a Delta IV Medium+ (5, 4) configuration Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) powered by one common booster core and four solid rocket motors built by Orbital ATK. The common booster core was powered by an RS-68A liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engine producing 705,250 pounds of thrust at sea level. A single RL10B-2 liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engine powered the second stage. The booster and upper stage engines are both built by Aerojet Rocketdyne. ULA constructed the Delta IV Medium+ (5,4) launch vehicle in Decatur, Alabama.

The U.S. Air Force's eighth Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) satellite, encapsulated in a 16.4-foot/5-meter payload fairing, is mated to a Delta IV booster at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex (SLC)-37
The U.S. Air Force’s eighth Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) satellite, encapsulated in a 16.4-foot/5-meter payload fairing, is mated to a Delta IV booster at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex (SLC)-37

WGS-8, the second Block II Follow-on satellite, supports communications links in the X-band and Ka-band spectra. The WGS-8 satellite will be able filter and downlink up to 8.088 GHz of bandwidth. WGS satellites are an important element of a new high-capacity satellite communications system providing enhanced communications capability to our troops in the field.

The EELV program was established by the U.S. Air Force to provide assured access to space for Department of Defense and other government payloads. The commercially developed EELV program supports the full range of government mission requirements, while delivering on schedule and providing significant cost savings over the heritage launch systems.

With more than a century of combined heritage, United Launch Alliance is the nation’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 110 satellites to orbit that provide critical capabilities for troops in the field, aid meteorologists in tracking severe weather, enable personal device-based GPS navigation and unlock the mysteries of our solar system.

Delta IV WGS-8 Launch Highlights

 

Surveillance Network

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket carrying the AFSPC-6 mission for the United States Air Force lifted off from Space Launch Complex-37 August 19 at 12:52 a.m. EDT. This is ULA’s seventh launch in 2016 and the 110th successful launch since the company was formed in December 2006.

ULA's Delta IV rocket lifts off with the AFSPC-6 mission for the United States Air Force
ULA’s Delta IV rocket lifts off with the AFSPC-6 mission for the United States Air Force

«Thank you to the ULA, Air Force and industry partners for the outstanding teamwork and flawless execution that made today’s mission a success», said Laura Maginnis, ULA vice president of Custom Services. «This morning’s AFSPC-6 launch is a prime example of why our customers continue to place their trust us to launch our nation’s crucial space capabilities».

This mission was launched aboard a Delta IV Medium+ (4,2) configuration Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) powered by one common booster core. The common booster core was powered by an RS-68A liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engine producing 702,000 pounds/ 318,422 kg of thrust. A single RL10B liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engine powered the second stage. The booster and upper stage engines are both built by Aerojet Rocketdyne. ULA constructed the Delta IV Medium+ (4,2) launch vehicle in Decatur, Alabama.

The AFSPC-6 mission consists of twin Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program (GSSAP) spacecraft, built by Orbital ATK. The new satellites will join the first two GSSAP spacecraft launched approximately two years ago aboard a Delta IV launch vehicle. GSSAP is a space-based capability that collects space situational awareness data, allowing for more accurate tracking and characterization of man-made orbiting objects. It has a clear, unobstructed, and distinct vantage point for viewing resident space objects orbiting earth in a near-geosynchronous orbit without the weather or atmosphere disruptions that limit ground-based observations. The data from GSSAP greatly improves our ability to rapidly detect, warn, characterize and attribute disturbances to space systems in the geosynchronous environment.

The Air Force's AFSPC-6 payload, encapsulated inside a 4-meter diameter payload fairing, is transported and mated to a Delta IV rocket at Space Launch Complex-37
The Air Force’s AFSPC-6 payload, encapsulated inside a 4-meter diameter payload fairing, is transported and mated to a Delta IV rocket at Space Launch Complex-37

ULA’s next launch is the Atlas V OSIRIS-REx spacecraft for NASA. The launch is scheduled for September 8 from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

The EELV program was established by the U.S. Air Force to provide assured access to space for Department of Defense (DoD) and other government payloads. The commercially developed EELV program supports the full range of government mission requirements, while delivering on schedule and providing significant cost savings over the heritage launch systems.

With more than a century of combined heritage, United Launch Alliance is the nation’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 100 satellites to orbit that provide critical capabilities for troops in the field, aid meteorologists in tracking severe weather, enable personal device-based GPS navigation and unlock the mysteries of our solar system.

Delta IV AFSPC-6 Launch Highlights

In preparation for launch, the Mobile Service Tower is rolled back from a Delta IV rocket carrying the AFSPC-6 mission
In preparation for launch, the Mobile Service Tower is rolled back from a Delta IV rocket carrying the AFSPC-6 mission

US Spy Satellite

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) lifted off from Space Launch Complex-41 July 28 at 8:37 a.m. EDT. Designated NROL-61, the mission is in support of national defense. This is ULA’s 6th launch in 2016 and the 109th successful launch since the company was formed in December 2006.

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying NROL-61 lifts off from Space Launch Complex-41
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying NROL-61 lifts off from Space Launch Complex-41

«Thank you to the entire mission team for years of hard work and collaboration on today’s successful launch of NROL-61. We are proud the U.S. Air Force and NRO Office of Space Launch have entrusted ULA with delivering this critical asset for our nation’s security», said Laura Maginnis, ULA vice president of Custom Services. «Our continued one launch at a time focus and exceptional teamwork make launches like today’s successful».

This mission was launched aboard an Atlas V Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) 421 configuration vehicle, which includes a 13.1-foot/4-meter-diameter Extra Extended Payload Fairing (XEPF). The Atlas booster for this mission was powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 engine, and the Centaur upper stage was powered by the Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10C-1 engine.

ULA’s next launch is the Delta IV AFSPC-6 (Air Force Space Command) satellite for the U.S. Air Force. The launch is scheduled for August 19 from Space Launch Complex-37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

The EELV program was established by the U.S. Air Force to provide assured access to space for Department of Defense and other government payloads. The commercially developed EELV program supports the full range of government mission requirements, while delivering on schedule and providing significant cost savings over the heritage launch systems.

With more than a century of combined heritage, United Launch Alliance is the nation’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 100 satellites to orbit that provide critical capabilities for troops in the field, aid meteorologists in tracking severe weather, enable personal device-based GPS navigation and unlock the mysteries of our solar system.

In preparation for launch, the NROL-61 payload for the National Reconnaissance Office is mated to an Atlas V rocket at the Vertical Integration Facility (ULA/Tony Gray)
In preparation for launch, the NROL-61 payload for the National Reconnaissance Office is mated to an Atlas V rocket at the Vertical Integration Facility (ULA/Tony Gray)

 

An Atlas V rocket carrying NROL-61 lifts off from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida

Spy Satellite

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Heavy rocket carrying a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) lifted off from Space Launch Complex-37 June 11 at 1:51 p.m. EDT. The NROL-37 mission is in support of national defense.

A Delta IV Heavy lifts off carrying NROL-37 for the National Reconnaissance Office
A Delta IV Heavy lifts off carrying NROL-37 for the National Reconnaissance Office

«We are so honored to deliver the NROL-37 payload to orbit for the National Reconnaissance Office during today’s incredible launch», said Laura Maginnis, ULA vice president of Custom Services. «This was the ninth time ULA launched the Delta IV Heavy, the most powerful launch vehicle in existence today».

This mission was launched aboard a Delta IV Heavy configuration Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV), which featured a center common booster core along with two strap-on common booster cores. The ULA Delta IV Heavy is currently the world’s largest rocket, providing the nation with reliable and proven heavy lift capability. Each common booster core was powered by an RS-68A liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engine producing 702,000 pounds/318,422 kg of thrust. A single RL10 liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engine powered the second stage. The booster and upper stage engines are both built by Aerojet Rocketdyne. ULA constructed the Delta IV Heavy launch vehicle in Decatur, Alabama.

«The team worked together through many challenges this flow including, overcoming the aftereffects of Tropical Storm Colin», said Maginnis. «We are proud of the outstanding teamwork between the ULA, NRO and Air Force partners to ensure mission success for this critical national security asset».

The Mobile Service Tower at Space Launch Complex-37 is rolled back in preparation for launch of the NROL-37 mission on a Delta IV Heavy rocket
The Mobile Service Tower at Space Launch Complex-37 is rolled back in preparation for launch of the NROL-37 mission on a Delta IV Heavy rocket

ULA’s next launch is the Atlas V MUOS-5 mission for the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Air Force. The launch is scheduled for June 24 from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

The EELV program was established by the U.S. Air Force to provide assured access to space for Department of Defense and other government payloads. The commercially developed EELV program supports the full range of government mission requirements, while delivering on schedule and providing significant cost savings over the heritage launch systems.

With more than a century of combined heritage, United Launch Alliance is the nation’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 100 satellites to orbit that provide critical capabilities for troops in the field, aid meteorologists in tracking severe weather, enable personal device-based GPS navigation and unlock the mysteries of our solar system.

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket carrying the NROL-37 mission lifted off June 11, 2016, from Space Launch Complex-37 at 1:51 p.m. EDT

Payload for the NRO

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket carrying a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) lifted off from Space Launch Complex-6 on February 10 at 3:40 a.m. PST. Designated NROL-45, the mission is in support of national defense. This is ULA’s second launch in 2016 and the 105th successful launch since the company was formed in December 2006.

The mission will be launched for the National Reconnaissance Office in support of national defense
The mission will be launched for the National Reconnaissance Office in support of national defense

«Congratulations to the ULA team and our U.S. Air Force and NRO partners on the launch of NROL-45», said Laura Maginnis, ULA vice president of Custom Services. «This is our second successful launch within five days for our U.S. government customer, a testament to our outstanding teamwork and focus on 100 percent mission success, one launch at a time. ULA is proud to be entrusted with safely and reliably delivering our nation’s most critical space assets to orbit».

This mission was launched aboard a Delta IV Medium+ (5,2) configuration Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) using a single ULA common booster core powered by an Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-68A main engine along with two Orbital ATK GEM-60 solid rocket motors. The upper stage was powered by an Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10B-2 engine with the satellite encapsulated in a 5-meter-diameter composite payload fairing.

ULA’s next launch is the Atlas V OA-6 Cygnus International Space Station resupply mission, flown for Orbital ATK under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract. The launch is targeted for March 22 from Space Launch Complex-41 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

The EELV program was established by the U.S. Air Force to provide assured access to space for Department of Defense (DoD) and other government payloads. The commercially developed EELV program supports the full range of government mission requirements, while delivering on schedule and providing significant cost savings over the heritage launch systems.

With more than a century of combined heritage, United Launch Alliance is the nation’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 100 satellites to orbit that provide critical capabilities for troops in the field, aid meteorologists in tracking severe weather, enable personal device-based GPS navigation and unlock the mysteries of our solar system.

 

 

A Delta IV rocket lifts off from Space Launch Complex-6 carrying the NROL-45 mission for the National Reconnaissance Office

 

Rocket Engine Ban

According to DefenseNews, the Pentagon late last week refused to waive a law banning the use of Russian rocket engines for military satellite launches, rejecting a plea from United Launch Alliance (ULA). ULA, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing that provides spacecraft launch services to the U.S. government, has threatened to skip an upcoming Air Force competition for satellite launches unless it gets some relief from the ban. ULA relies on the Russian RD-180 rocket engine to power its Atlas V rocket, although it also builds a Delta IV rocket powered by U.S. company Aerojet Rocketdyne’s RS-68 engine.

The ULA uses Russian RD-180 rocket engines to power its Atlas 5 rocket (Photo: ULA)
The ULA uses Russian RD-180 rocket engines to power its Atlas 5 rocket (Photo: ULA)

Elon Musk’s SpaceX is the other potential competitor for the Air Force’s GPS III Launch Services solicitation, part of the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program. SpaceX has invested heavily over the past few years to develop its own Merlin engine to power its Falcon 9 rocket. Proposals for GPS III Launch Services are due November 16.

In response to recent Russian aggression, particularly Moscow’s annexation of Crimea last year, lawmakers in the fiscal 2015 defense budget banned the use of Russian RD-180 rocket engines for military satellite launches after 2019.

The Pentagon remains committed to maintaining two sources of launch services to ensure access to space, according to Lieutenant Commander Courtney Hillson, spokeswoman for the deputy secretary of defense. Department of Defense (DoD) will continue to evaluate the need for a waiver and consider a range of options, including possible sole-source contracts, to keep both companies in business, she continued.

«We are not planning at this time to issue a waiver lifting the prohibition against award of an EELV space launch services contract to a contractor intending to use a Russian manufactured engine, although we will continue to evaluate the need for such waiver, if deemed necessary», Hillson said in a statement emailed to Defense News on October 13.

«We will continue to work with the Administration and Congress to maintain assured access to space, to achieve the mutual goal of a healthy and competitive industrial base, and to ensure a rapid transition away from the Russian RD-180 engine».

 

National Reconnaissance

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and 13 CubeSats lifted off from Space Launch Complex-3 October 8 at 5:49 a.m. PDT. Designated NROL-55, the mission is in support of national defense. This is ULA’s 10th launch in 2015 and the 101st successful launch since the company was formed in December 2006.

An Atlas V rocket stands ready to launch the National Reconnaissance Office's NROL-55 mission from Vandenberg's Space Launch Complex-3
An Atlas V rocket stands ready to launch the National Reconnaissance Office’s NROL-55 mission from Vandenberg’s Space Launch Complex-3

«Congratulations on today’s successful launch of NROL-55! ULA is honored to have collaborated with the NRO Office of Space Launch and the Air Force on the integration and launch of the NROL-55 spacecraft to orbit with our Atlas V vehicle», said Jim Sponnick, ULA vice president, Atlas and Delta Programs. «Launches like this only happen with exceptional teamwork by an extremely talented team and a one-launch-at-a-time focus on mission success».

The Atlas V rocket also delivered 13 Government Rideshare Advanced Concepts Experiment (GRACE) CubeSats to orbit. The nine NRO-sponsored CubeSats and four NASA-sponsored CubeSats were mounted to the Aft-Bulkhead Carrier located on the back end of the Centaur upper stage.

«The GRACE CubeSats will perform missions demonstrating tracking technologies, software-defined radio communications and will also conduct other measurements and experiments», said Sponnick. «We are happy that ULA could play a part in bringing these nano-satellites to orbit along with the NRO payload through a cost-effective rideshare».

The 13 CubeSats were developed by Aerospace Corporation, the Army’s Space and Missile Defense Center, Tyvak, SRI International, the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, Salish Kootenai College, Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation (AMSAT) and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Weighing 1-5 kilograms, they are developed, launched and controlled at a fraction of the cost of a typical operating satellite.

The NRO payload and GRACE CubeSats were launched aboard an Atlas V Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) 401 configuration vehicle, which includes a 4-meter-diameter payload fairing. The Atlas booster for this mission was powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 engine and the Centaur upper stage was powered by the Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10C-1 engine.

ULA’s next launch is the Atlas V Global Positioning System (GPS) IIF-11 satellite for the U.S. Air Force, scheduled for October 30 from Space Launch Complex-41 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

The EELV program was established by the U.S. Air Force to provide assured access to space for Department of Defense and other government payloads. The commercially developed EELV program supports the full range of government mission requirements, while delivering on schedule and providing significant cost savings over the heritage launch systems.

With more than a century of combined heritage, United Launch Alliance is the nation’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 100 satellites to orbit that provide critical capabilities for troops in the field, aid meteorologists in tracking severe weather, enable personal device-based GPS navigation and unlock the mysteries of our solar system.

The NROL-55 payload, encapsulated in a 4-meter diameter payload fairing, is mated to an Atlas V booster inside the Mobile Service Tower or MST at Vandenberg's Space Launch Complex-3
The NROL-55 payload, encapsulated in a 4-meter diameter payload fairing, is mated to an Atlas V booster inside the Mobile Service Tower or MST at Vandenberg’s Space Launch Complex-3

Wideband Global SATCOM

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket successfully launched the seventh Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) communications satellite for the U.S. Air Force at 8:07 p.m. EDT on July 23 from Space Launch Complex-37. This is ULA’s seventh launch in 2015 and the second successful ULA launch in just eight days. It marks ULA’s 98th successful one-at-a-time launch since the company was formed in December 2006.

A Delta IV rocket lifts off carrying the seventh Wideband Global SATCOM satellite for the U.S. Air Force
A Delta IV rocket lifts off carrying the seventh Wideband Global SATCOM satellite for the U.S. Air Force

«Kudos to the U.S. Air Force and all of our mission partners on today’s successful launch and orbital delivery of the WGS-7 satellite. The ULA team is honored to work with these premier U.S. government and industry mission teammates and to contribute to the WGS enhanced communications capabilities to the warfighter», said Jim Sponnick, ULA vice president, Atlas and Delta Programs. «The team continues to emphasize reliability, and one launch at a time focus on mission success to meet our customer’s needs».

This mission was launched aboard a Delta IV Medium-plus (5,4) configuration Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) using a single ULA common booster core powered by an Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-68A main engine, along with four Orbital ATK GEM-60 solid rocket motors. The upper stage was powered by an Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10B-2 engine with the satellite encapsulated in a five-meter-diameter composite payload fairing.

Wideband Global SATCOM provides anytime, anywhere communication for the warfighter through broadcast, multicast and point-to-point connections. WGS provides essential communications services, allowing Combatant Commanders to exert command and control of their tactical forces, from peacetime to military operations. WGS is the only military satellite communications system that can support simultaneous X and Ka band communications.

In preparation for launch from Space Complex-37, the Mobile Service Tower or MST is rolled back from the ULA Delta IV rocket carrying the WGS-7 mission for the U.S. Air Force
In preparation for launch from Space Complex-37, the Mobile Service Tower or MST is rolled back from the ULA Delta IV rocket carrying the WGS-7 mission for the U.S. Air Force

ULA’s next launch is the Atlas V MUOS-4 mission for the United States Navy, scheduled for August 31 from Space Launch Complex-41 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

The EELV program was established by the United States Air Force to provide assured access to space for Department of Defense and other government payloads. The commercially developed EELV program supports the full range of government mission requirements, while delivering on schedule and providing significant cost savings over the heritage launch systems.

With more than a century of combined heritage, United Launch Alliance is the nation’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 95 satellites to orbit that provide critical capabilities for troops in the field, aid meteorologists in tracking severe weather, enable personal device-based GPS navigation and unlock the mysteries of our solar system.

The Air Force's seventh Wideband Global SATCOM satellite, encapsulated inside a 5-meter payload fairing, is mated to a Delta IV rocket at Space Launch Complex-37
The Air Force’s seventh Wideband Global SATCOM satellite, encapsulated inside a 5-meter payload fairing, is mated to a Delta IV rocket at Space Launch Complex-37

 

Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS)

WGS-7, the first Block II Follow-on satellite, supports communications links in the X-band and Ka-band spectra. While Block I and II satellites can instantaneously filter and downlink up to 4.575 MHz from 39 primary channels, WGS-7 can filter and downlink up to 5.375 MHz from 46 primary channels.

As with the Block II satellites, WGS-7 includes a high-bandwidth Radio Frequency (RF) bypass capability, which allows for larger bandwidth allocations to users. Depending on the mix of ground terminals, data rates, and modulation and coding schemes employed, a single WGS satellite can support data transmission rates between 2.1 and 3.6 Gbps.

WGS-7 also allows for up to ~800 MHz of additional bandwidth through the use of «Redundant Port Activation».

The Air Force's seventh Wideband Global SATCOM satellite is encapsulated inside a Delta IV 5-meter payload fairing
The Air Force’s seventh Wideband Global SATCOM satellite is encapsulated inside a Delta IV 5-meter payload fairing

WGS has 19 independent coverage areas, 18 of which can be positioned throughout its field-of-view. This includes eight steerable/shapeable X-band beams formed by separate transmit/receive phased arrays; 10 Ka-band beams served by independently steerable diplexed antennas; and one transmit/receive X-band Earth-coverage beam. WGS can tailor coverage areas and connect X-band and Ka-band users anywhere within its field-of-view.

Five globally located Army Wideband SATCOM Operations Centers provide 24/7 payload monitoring and command and control of the WGS constellation. Each Global Satellite Configuration and Control Element has the capability to control up to three satellites at a time.

Spacecraft platform control and anomaly resolution is accomplished by the third Space Operations Squadron at Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

 

The U.S. Air Force’s seventh Wideband Global SATCOM satellite, encapsulated inside a 5-meter payload fairing, is mated to a Delta IV rocket at Space Launch Complex-37

 

A Delta IV rocket lifts off carrying the seventh Wideband Global SATCOM satellite for the U.S. Air Force. Wideband Global SATCOM provides anytime, anywhere communication for the warfighter through broadcast, multicast and point-to-point connections

 

Next Ride to Space

United Launch Alliance (ULA) unveiled its Next Generation Launch System (NGLS) on April 13, 2015 at the 31st Space Symposium. The new rocket, Vulcan, will transform the future of space by making launch services more affordable and accessible. The NGLS brings together decades of experience on ULA’s reliable Atlas and Delta vehicles, combining the best features of each to produce an all-new, American-made rocket that will enable mission success from Low Earth Orbit (LEO) all the way to Pluto.

Vulcan will open up brand new opportunities for the nation’s use of space
Vulcan will open up brand new opportunities for the nation’s use of space

«More capabilities in space mean more capabilities here on Earth», said Tory Bruno, president and CEO of United Launch Alliance. «Because the Next Generation Launch System will be the highest-performing, most cost-efficient rocket on the market, it will open up new opportunities for the nation’s use of space. Whether it is scientific missions, medical advancements, national security or new economic opportunities for businesses, ULA’s new Vulcan rocket is a game-changer in terms of creating endless possibilities in space».

To help give all Americans a chance to play a role in the future of space, last month ULA launched an online naming competition that allowed Americans to vote on their favorite name for the NGLS. More than one million votes were cast, and Vulcan was the top choice.

«As the company currently responsible for more than 70 percent of the nation’s space launches, it is only fitting that America got to name the country’s rocket of the future», added Bruno.

By streamlining the processes and rocket design, and developing a new all-American engine, ULA will continue to be the country’s most innovative, cost-efficient and technically rigorous launch company, providing a wide range of services to a broad customer base – including the most critical U.S. government missions.

«ULA’s precision and focus makes the remarkable seem routine. Our track record of 95 successful launches in less than nine years – an average of one launch per month – is unmatched in the industry. Our ability to deliver critical national security, scientific and commercial satellites into the correct orbit every time is filled with risks and challenges, and ULA has delivered every time. ULA’s reliability is and will continue to be part of the mission», Tory Bruno concluded.

Step one of NGLS will consist of a single booster stage, the high-energy Centaur second stage and either a 4- or 5-meter-diameter payload fairing
Step one of NGLS will consist of a single booster stage, the high-energy Centaur second stage and either a 4- or 5-meter-diameter payload fairing

At today’s news announcement, Bruno also unveiled the Sensible, Modular, Autonomous Return Technology (SMART) initiative, which will be introduced into NGLS and allow ULA to reuse the most expensive portion of the first stage – the booster main engines – via mid-air capture. This allows a controlled recovery environment providing the confidence needed to re-fly the hardware.

Step one of NGLS will consist of a single booster stage, the high-energy Centaur second stage and either a 4- or 5-meter-diameter payload fairing. Up to four Solid Rocket Boosters (SRBs) augment the lift off power of the 4-meter configuration, while up to six SRBs can be added to the 5-meter version.

In step two, the Centaur second stage will be replaced by the more powerful, innovative Advanced Cryogenic Evolved Stage (ACES), making the NGLS capability that of today’s Delta IV Heavy rocket. ACES can execute almost unlimited burns, extending on-orbit operating time from hours to weeks.

Last year, ULA announced that it had partnered with Blue Origin, LLC, a privately funded aerospace company owned by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, to provide a cutting-edge engine for the NGLS while also providing a viable alternative to the Russian-made RD-180. This collaboration to fund the development of a new, U.S.-made BE-4 rocket engine, is part of the cost-reduction innovation for our customers. The BE-4 is designed for low recurring cost and will meet commercial and NASA requirements as well as those of the U.S. Air Force’s Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program. The BE-4 uses low-cost liquid natural gas fuel and is designed for reuse.

With more than a century of combined heritage, United Launch Alliance is the nation’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 90 satellites to orbit that provide critical capabilities for troops in the field, aid meteorologists in tracking severe weather, enable personal device-based GPS navigation and unlock the mysteries of our solar system.

From Low Earth Orbit to Pluto, the single-core NGLS does it all
From Low Earth Orbit to Pluto, the single-core NGLS does it all

 

Next Generation Launch System

With the introduction of the Vulcan, ULA’s NGLS, ULA is transforming the future of space launch – making it more affordable, accessible, and commercialized – and innovating to develop solutions to the nation’s most critical need: reliable access to space.

Unleashing Mankind’s Potential in Space

More capabilities in space mean more capabilities here on Earth. By making it more affordable to conduct launches, Vulcan will open up brand new opportunities for the nation’s use of space.

Simple and Affordable

The NGLS offers our customers unprecedented flexibility in a single system. From Low Earth Orbit to Pluto, the single-core NGLS does it all. This simple design is more cost-efficient for all customers, whether defense and national security, NASA science and human spaceflight, or commercial.

American Power

The NGLS will have an American engine, will offer the best value and with the introduction of the ACES it will have greater capability than any other rocket on the market.

In step one, with a planned initial launch capability in 2019, Vulcan will exceed the capability of Atlas V, serving the vast majority of our customers’ mission needs. Step one of the NGLS consists of single booster stage, the high-energy Centaur second stage and either a 4-meter or 5-meter-diameter payload fairing. Up to four SRBs augment the lift off power of the 4-meter configuration, while up to six SRBs can be added to the 5-meter.

In step two, the Centaur second stage will be replaced by the more powerful ACES in 2023. With the addition of ACES, Vulcan will achieve the current capability of the Delta IV Heavy, which carries the largest payloads for our most critical customers.

 

Innovative Next Generation Launch System will provide country’s most reliable, affordable, and accessible launch service