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United Launch Alliance

Joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing

Top 10 United Launch Alliance related articles

United Launch Alliance
FoundedDecember 1, 2006; 13 years ago (2006-12-01)
HeadquartersCentennial, Colorado, United States
Key people
Tory Bruno (CEO)
Number of employees
2500 (2018) [1]
ParentBoeing, Lockheed Martin 

United Launch Alliance (ULA) is an American spacecraft launch service provider that manufactures and operates a number of rocket vehicles that are capable of launching spacecraft into orbits around Earth and to other bodies in the solar system. The company, which is a joint venture between Lockheed Martin Space and Boeing Defense, Space & Security, was formed in December 2006. Launch customers of the United States government include the Department of Defense (DoD), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and other organizations.[2]

ULA provides launch services using expendable launch systems Delta IV Heavy and Atlas V, and until 2018 the medium-lift Delta II. The Atlas, Delta IV Heavy and the recently retired Delta IV launch systems have launched payloads including weather, telecommunications, and national security satellites, scientific probes and orbiters. ULA also launches commercial satellites.[3]

As of 2020, the company is developing the Vulcan Centaur, a successor to the Atlas V that includes some Delta IV technology.[4][5] As of 2019, Vulcan launches were planned to begin in 2021.[6] The Advanced Cryogenic Evolved Stage (ACES) is planned to replace Centaur V on Vulcan from 2023.[7][8]

United Launch Alliance Intro articles: 6

Company history

Formation and FTC approval

Boeing and Lockheed Martin announced their intent to form a 50-50 joint venture on May 2, 2005, aiming to consolidate the manufacture and development of U.S. government expendable launch vehicles and launch services. The name United Launch Alliance (ULA) was announced at the same time.[9] Annual savings were estimated to be between US$100 million and US$150 million. SpaceX challenged the United States antitrust law legality of the launch services monopoly on October 23, 2005, creating competition with reusable launch systems.[10] The Federal Trade Commission gave ULA anti-trust clearance on October 3, 2006.[11] The commission required ULA to "cooperate on equivalent terms with all providers of government space vehicles ... provide equal consideration and support to all launch service providers when seeking any U.S. government delivery in orbit contract ... and to safeguard competitively sensitive information obtained from other providers of space vehicles and launch services".[12]

It was the FTC's opinion that due to the challenge of entering the government medium-to-heavy launch services market, the entry of SpaceX was unlikely to reverse the anti-competitive effects resulting from the formation of ULA.[12] It approved the joint venture on the basis that the benefits of assured access to space for national security outweighed anti-competitive harm.[13]

Michael Gass era (2005-2014)

The ULA merged the production and operation of the two companies' government space launch services into one central plant in Decatur, Alabama, and merged all engineering into another central facility in Littleton, Colorado. The parent companies retained responsibility for marketing and sales of the Delta and Atlas launch vehicles.[14]

ULA had a peak of seven space launch facilities between 2005 and 2011, including three Delta II launchpads, which were decommissioned starting in 2011.[15] Two years after its formation, in late 2008, ULA announced it would lay off 350 of its 4200 workers in early 2009.[16] In the event, ULA had approximately 3900 employees by August 2009.[17] ULA joined the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) in June 2010 as an executive member. ULA's CEO Michael Gass described the company's membership as a "natural fit for us, and we are proud to do so".[18] By May 2014, ULA's membership of the CSF had lapsed.[19]

Tory Bruno era (2014 onward)

Michael Gass stepped down as ULA's CEO in August 2014 and was replaced by Tory Bruno, former vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin Strategic and Missile Defense Systems.[20] ULA entered into a partnership with Blue Origin in September 2014 to develop the BE-4 LOX/methane engine to replace the RD-180 on a new, lower cost first-stage booster rocket. At the time, the engine was in its third year of development by Blue Origin. ULA said it expected the new stage and engine to start flying no earlier than 2019 on a successor to the Atlas V.[21] A month later, ULA announced a major restructuring of processes and workforce to halve launch costs, partly due to competition from SpaceX. The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) calculated the average cost of each ULA rocket launch for the U.S. government had risen to approximately US$420 million in 2014.[22][23]

ULA had less success securing deals for Earth observation, commercial communication and privately owned satellites than it had with launching U.S. military payloads.[24] In November 2014, Tory Bruno stated the structuring was intended to "lead to improvements in how ULA interacts with its customers, both governmental and commercial", shorten launch cycles, and halve launch costs again.[25] Part of that program involved the development of a new rocket, the Vulcan, initially with private funds, to tackle "skyrocketing launch costs".[26] Bruno believed the new, lower-cost launcher could be competitive in the commercial satellite sector.[24] ULA intended to have preliminary design ideas in place for a blending of the Atlas V and Delta IV technology by the end of 2014[27][28] but the high-level design was not announced until April 2015.[29]

In February 2016, it was announced the development of the Vulcan rocket would be funded via a public–private partnership with the U.S. government. By early 2016, the USAF had committed US$201 million of funding for Vulcan development. ULA had not "put a firm price on the cost of Vulcan development" but according to Mike Gross of SpaceNews, Bruno "said new rockets typically cost US$2 billion, including US$1 billion for the main engine".[30] In 2016, ULA had asked the U.S. government to provide a minimum of US$1.2 billion by 2020 to assist the development of the new U.S. launch vehicle.[30] It was unclear how the change in development funding mechanisms would change ULA plans for pricing market-driven launch services.[31] Since Vulcan development began in October 2014, the privately generated funding for Vulcan development has been approved only on a short term basis.[26][30] The ULA board of directors, which was composed of executives from Boeing and Lockheed Martin, would approve development funding on a quarterly basis.[32] ULA planned to reduce its number of launchpads from five in 2015 to two.[33]

ULA announced in February 2015 it was considering undertaking domestic production of the Russian RD-180 rocket engine at the Decatur, Alabama, rocket stage manufacturing facility. The U.S.-manufactured engines would be used for government civil (NASA) or commercial launches, and would not be used for U.S. military launches.[34] This idea was abandoned following the passage of legislation permitting the continued purchase of the RD-180 from Russia.[35]

In May 2015, ULA stated it would go out of business unless it won commercial and civil satellite launch orders to offset an expected slump in U.S. military and spy launches.[36] The same month, ULA announced it would lay off 12 of its executives, a reduction of 30%, in December 2015. The management layoffs were the "beginning of a major reorganization and redesign" as ULA endeavors to "slash costs and hunt out new customers to ensure continued growth despite the rise of SpaceX".[37][38] In December 2016, ULA created an online pricing tool called "Rocket Builder", which allowed potential customers and the public to estimate launch costs of the Atlas V rocket with configurable orbits, payloads and launch services.[39] Purchase-price estimates were removed from the tool in 2018 because it potentially provided commercially sensitive information to ULA's competitors.[40] Despite ULA's cost-cutting and restructuring,[41] the cheapest ULA space launch in early 2018 remained the Atlas V 401 at a price of approximately US$109 million.

In July 2017, ULA was awarded US$191 million to launch STP-3 aboard a heavy-lift Atlas V 551.[42] The following January, ULA took over marketing and sales responsibilities for Atlas V launches.[43] Dan Collins, ULA's inaugural Chief operating officer, retired in April 2018 and was replaced by John Elbon, former vice president and program manager at Boeing Defense, Space & Security.[44][45]

During the 2019–2020 COVID-19 pandemic, some aspects of ULA's launch related outreach were scaled back but the company said it would maintain its launch schedule.[46]


With the introduction of competition from lower-cost launch providers and the annually increasing costs of ULA launches, increased attention has been paid to the amounts ULA has received for U.S. government launch contracts and for its annual government funding of US$1 billion for launch capability and readiness. This readiness requirement included the maintenance of five launch pads and a number of variants of the Delta II, Delta IV, Delta IV Heavy, and Atlas V rockets.[47] As a result of increasing costs by ULA, in April 2012, the EELV program triggered a critical Nunn-McCurdy cost breach and a reassessment of the program, of which ULA was the sole participant.[48]

ULA Launch Service Costs under the Block Buy (marketing publication)

An uncontested USAF block-purchase of 36 rocket cores for up to 28 launches, which was valued at US$11 billion, was awarded in December 2013 and drew protest from SpaceX, which said the cost of ULA's launches were approximately US$460 million each and proposed a price of US$90 million to provide similar launches.[49] In response, ULA's CEO Michael Gass said its average launch price was US$225 million, with future launches as low as US$100 million.[50]

ULA released contract values to the public and new CEO Tory Bruno testified before Congress in March 2015 that while ULA receives government subsidies "to conduct national security launches", the same is true of SpaceX, which received funding "to develop new capabilities and the use of low-cost or no-cost leases of previously developed launch infrastructure".[51] It is difficult to directly compare launch costs because they are not necessarily calculated using the same cost-model assumptions.[52]

A political controversy arose in March 2016 following public remarks by ULA VP of Engineering, Brett Tobey, whose comments were, according to Peter de Selding of SpaceNews, "resentful of SpaceX" and dismissive of one of the two competitors (Aerojet Rocketdyne) for the new engine that will power the Vulcan launch vehicle, which was under development.[53] Tobey resigned on March 16[54] and Bruno disavowed the remarks.[55]

Senator John McCain asked the DoD to investigate the comments that implied it may have shown "favoritism to a major defense contractor or that efforts have been made to silence members of Congress"[56] and the Secretary of Defense requested the DoD's Inspector General to open an investigation of the controversy.[57][58]

Following the failure of a SpaceX Falcon 9 carrying Amos-6, incorrect reports about potential corporate espionage by ULA circulated.[59] These reports were proved to be false January 2, 2017, when SpaceX released an official statement saying the cause of the failure was a buckled liner in several of the COPV tanks.[60]

In June 2017, Ars Technica analyzed a USAF budget and concluded if ULA was selected for all USAF launches in the year 2020–2021, the cost-per-launch would be around US$420 million.[61] Bruno described the analysis as "misleading"; in July 2017 the company was awarded US$191 million single-launch contract to launch the STP-3 mission aboard the heavy-lift Atlas V 551.[42]

United Launch Alliance Company history articles: 28

Launch vehicles

Current ULA fleet
Delta IV Heavy
Atlas V 400
Atlas V 500

As of 2020, ULA operates the Atlas V and Delta IV rockets,[62][63] which were developed under the National Security Space Launch (NSSL) program by Lockheed Martin and Boeing respectively, both launching in 2002.[64] The Delta IV Medium was retired on August 22, 2019,[65][66] but Delta IV Heavy rockets will continue to be used to launch heavy payloads.[67] As of 2020, ULA is developing Vulcan, a heavy-lift launch vehicle that will replace its existing fleet. Astrobotic Technology's Peregrine lander will be launched launch on the first Vulcan certification flight, which is expected to occur in 2021 from SLC-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.[68]


Atlas V

Atlas V[a] is the fifth major version in the Atlas rocket family. It is an expendable launch system that was originally designed by Lockheed Martin. Each Atlas V rocket consists of two main stages. The first stage is powered by a Russian RD-180 engine, which is manufactured by RD Amross, and burns kerosene and liquid oxygen. The Centaur upper stage is powered by one or two RL10 engines, which are manufactured by Aerojet Rocketdyne, and burn liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen. AJ-60A strap-on solid rocket boosters (SRBs) are used in some configurations and will be replaced by GEM-63 SRBs in the near future. The standard payload fairings are 4 or 5 metres (13 or 16 ft) in diameter with varying lengths.[69]

Delta IV

Delta IV is a group of five expendable launch systems in the Delta rocket family, which was introduced in the early 2000s. The Delta IV was originally designed by Boeing's Defense, Space & Security division for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program, and became a ULA product in 2006. The Delta IV is mostly used for launching United States Air Force military payloads but has also been used to launch a number of U.S. government non-military payloads and one commercial satellite. The Delta IV originally had two main versions, which allowed the family to accommodate a range of payload sizes and masses; models include yhe retired Medium, which had four configurations, and the Heavy. As of 2019, only the Heavy remains active; payloads that would previously fly on Medium moved to either the existing Atlas V or the forthcoming Vulcan. Retirement of the Delta IV is anticipated in 2024.

In development


Vulcan is a heavy-lift launch vehicle that ULA is developing to meet the demands of the NSSL competition and launch program. The rocket is ULA's first launch vehicle design, which is adapting and evolving technologies that were developed for the Atlas V and Delta IV rockets. The first-stage propellant tanks share the diameter of the Delta IV Common Booster Core but will contain liquid methane and liquid oxygen propellants rather than the Delta IV's liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen. Blue Origin's BE-4 engine was selected to power Vulcan's first stage in September 2018 after a competition with the Aerojet Rocketdyne's AR1.[70]

Vulcan's upper stage will be the Centaur V, an upgraded variant of the Common Centaur/Centaur III that is currently used on the Atlas V. A lengthened version of the Centaur V will be used on the Vulcan Centaur Heavy.[71] ULA plans to eventually upgrade the Centaur V with Integrated Vehicle Fluids technology to become the Advanced Cryogenic Evolved Stage (ACES).[72] Vulcan is intended to undergo the human-rating certification process to allow the launch of crew in a vehicle such as the Boeing Starliner or a crewed version of the Sierra Nevada Dream Chaser.[73]


Delta II

Delta II was an expendable launch system that was originally designed and built by McDonnell Douglas, and was later built by Boeing prior to the formation of ULA. Delta II was part of the Delta rocket family and entered service in 1989. Delta II vehicles included the Delta 6000 and the two later Delta 7000 variants ("Light" and "Heavy"). The rocket flew its final mission ICESat-2 on 15 September 2018.[74]

United Launch Alliance Launch vehicles articles: 31

Launch history

  •   Success
  •   Partial Failure
  •   Scheduled


The first launch conducted by ULA was a Delta II from Vandenberg Air Force Base on December 14, 2006,[75] carrying the satellite USA-193 for the National Reconnaissance Office.[76][77][78][79] The satellite failed shortly after launch and was intentionally destroyed on February 21, 2008, by an SM-3 missile that was fired from the Ticonderoga class cruiser USS Lake Erie.[80] ULA's first Atlas V launch was in March 2007; it was an Atlas V variant 401 launching six military research satellites for Space Test Program (STP) 1. This mission also performed three burns of the Centaur upper stage; it was the first three-burn mission for Atlas V.

ULA's first commercial mission COSMO-SkyMed was launched on behalf of Italy's Ministry of Defense three months later using a Delta II rocket.[77] On June 15, 2007, the engine in the Centaur upper stage of a ULA-launched Atlas V shut down early, leaving its payload – a pair of NROL-30 ocean surveillance satellites – in a lower than intended orbit.[81] The NRO declared the launch a success.[82]

2007 also saw ULA's first two interplanetary spacecraft launches using the Delta II; the Phoenix probe was launched to Mars in August and the Dawn satellite to was launched to the asteroids Vesta and Ceres in September 2007.[83][84] Using a Delta II, the WorldView-1 satellite was also launched into a low Earth orbit on behalf of DigitalGlobe. The company's first launch to geostationary transfer orbit using an Atlas V 421 variant carrying the USA-195 (or WGS-1) communications satellite also occurred that year.[77][85] ULA's tenth mission was launching satellite GPS IIR-17 into medium Earth orbit on a Delta II.[77] The company completed its first Delta IV launch using the Delta IV Heavy rocket to place a payload into geosynchronous orbit in November, which was followed by three more launches in December.[77]

2008 saw seven launches, including Atlas V's from Vandenberg's Space Launch Complex 3E and five others using the Delta II.[77] The Atlas launch carried NROL-28 in March 2008[86] and in September 2008 the GeoEye-1 satellite was orbited by a Delta II rocket.[87] ULA completed eight Delta II, five Atlas V, and three Delta IV launches in 2009.[77] The Delta II launches carried three Space Tracking and Surveillance System satellites over two launches, two Global Positioning System satellites,[88] and the NOAA-19 and WorldView-2 satellites,[89][90] as well as theKepler and the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer space telescopes.[77][91]

The Atlas launches carried the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and LCROSS mission as part of the Lunar Precursor Robotic Program, which was later intentionally crashed into the moon and found the existence of water;[92] other 2009 Atlas V launches in included Intelsat 14, WGS-2,[85] PAN, and a weather satellite as part of the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP). The Delta IV rockets carried the NROL-26, GOES 14,[93] and WGS-3 satellites.[77][85]


In 2010, Atlas V launches deployed the Solar Dynamics Observatory, the first Boeing X-37B, the first Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellite, and the NROL-41. The Delta II system placed the last COSMO-SkyMed and Delta IV launches deployed the GOES 15, GPS Block IIF, and USA-223 satellites.[94][95] ULA completed eleven launches in 2011, including five by Atlas, three by Delta II, and three by Delta IV. The Atlas system orbited another Boeing X-37, two NROL-34 signals intelligence satellites,[96] a Space-Based Infrared System (SBIS) satellite, the Juno spacecraft and Curiosity rover.[94][97] The Delta II launches placed the SAC-D and Suomi NPP satellites into orbit,[98] as well as two spacecraft associated with NASA's GRAIL lunar mission. Delta IV launches carried the NROL-49, NROL-27,[99] and another GPS satellite.[94]

ULA's 2012 launches included six Atlas Vs and four Delta IVs. The Atlas system carried Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) and AEHF satellites, another Boeing X-37, the Intruder and Quasar satellites, and the Van Allen Probes. Delta IVs deployed GPS and WGS satellites USA-233,[100][101] as well as NROL-25[102] and NROL-15 on behalf of the National Reconnaissance Office.[94][103] In 2013, the Atlas flew eight times.[104] The system launched the TDRS-11,[105] Landsat 8, AEHF-3, and NROL-39 satellites, as well as SBIS, GPS, and MUOS satellites, as well as NASA's MAVEN space probe to Mars. Delta IV launches orbited the fifth and sixth Wideband Global SATCOM satellites ([WGS-5]] and WGS-6,[106] as well as NROL-65.[94][100][107] In 2014, ULA's Atlas V orbited the TDRS-12 communications satellite in January,[108] the WorldView-3 commercial satellite in August,[109] and the CLIO communications satellite during September and October.[110] Atlas rockets also carried the satellites DMSP-5D-3/F19, NROL-67, NROL-33, and NROL-35.[110] Delta IV rockets orbited GPS satellites and two Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program satellites, and in July, NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory 2 was carried by a Delta II.[110] Orion's first test flight was launched by a Delta IV Heavy rocket in December 2014, as part of Exploration Flight Test-1.[111]


A Delta II rocket orbited a Soil Moisture Active Passive satellite in January 2015.[112] In March, an Atlas V rocket carried NASA's Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission spacecraft,[113] and a Delta IV rocket orbited the GPS IIF-9 satellite on behalf of the U.S. Air Force.[114] The U.S. Air Force's X-37B spaceplane was carried by an Atlas V rocket in May,[115] and a Delta IV orbited the WGS-7 satellite in July.[116] The fourth MUOS satellite was orbited by an Atlas V in September.[117] ULA's 100th consecutive successful liftoff was completed on October 2, 2015, when an Atlas V rocket orbited a Mexican Satellite System communications satellite on behalf of the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation.[111] The classified NROL-55 satellite was launched by an Atlas V rocket several days later.[118] Atlas V rockets launched GPS Block IIF satellites and the Cygnus cargo spacecraft in November and December, respectively.[119][120]

In 2016, Delta IV rockets carried the NROL-45 satellite and Air Force Space Command 6 mission in February and August, respectively.[121][122] During a launch of the Atlas V rocket on March 22, 2016, a minor first-stage anomaly led to shutdown of the first-stage engine approximately five seconds before anticipated. The Centaur upper stage was able to compensate by firing for approximately one minute longer than planned using its reserved fuel margin.[123][124] Atlas V rockets carried MUOS-5 in June,[125] NROL-61 satellites in July,[126] and the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft in September.[127]

ULA launched multiple satellites in late 2016. The weather satellite Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R was carried in November,[128][129] as was the WorldView-4 imaging satellite.[130] In December, the Wideband Global SATCOM's eighth satellite WGS-8 was launched on a Delta IV Medium rocket,[129][131] and an Atlas V carried the EchoStar XIX communications satellite on behalf of Hughes Communications.[132] In March 2017, WGS-9 was orbited by a Delta IV.[133][134] Atlas V rockets carried NRO satellites,[135][136][137] TDRS-M,[138] and a Cygnus cargo capsule in 2017.[139] The weather satellite NOAA-20 (JPSS-1) was launched by a Delta II rocket in November.[140][141]

Launch of InSight
Parker Solar Probe Launch

An Atlas V carried the SBIRS-GEO 4 military satellite in January 2018.[142] The Atlas V's launch of NASA's InSight to Mars in 2018 was the first interplanetary probe to depart from the U.S. West Coast.[143] In August 2018, a Delta IV Heavy launched Parker Solar Probe, NASA's solar space probe that will visit and study the sun's outer corona in August 2018.[144] It was also the Delta IV Heavy with a Star-48BV kick stage,[145] and the highest-ever spacecraft velocity.[146] The company launched the final Delta II rocket, carrying ICESat-2 from Vandenberg Air Force Base SLC-2 on 15 September 2018. This marks the last launch of a Delta family rocket based on the original Thor IRBM.[74] On August 22, 2019, ULA launched its last Delta IV Medium rocket for the GPS III Magellan project.[147] An Atlas V carried Boeing's Starliner Orbital Flight Test (OFT) mission for NASA in December 2019.[148]


Solar Orbiter launch closeup

In 2020, an Atlas V carried the Solar Orbiter spacecraft, an international collaboration between the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA to provide a new global view of the sun.[149] In March, an Atlas V also launched Advanced Extremely High Frequency 6 (AEHF-6), the first U.S. Space Force National Security Mission.[150][151] In May 2020, ULA launched an Atlas V rocket carrying the USSF-7 mission with the X-37B spaceplane for the U.S Space Force and the mission victims of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as first responders, health professionals, military personnel, and other essential workers.[152]

United Launch Alliance Launch history articles: 104


Launch facilities

ULA's Horizontal Integration Facility at CCAFS in February 2018

ULA operates orbital launch sites at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida, and Vandenberg Air Force Base near Lompoc, California.[153] In Florida, ULA has used Launch Complex 41 for Atlas V launches since its maiden flight in August 2002,[154][155] and Launch Complex 37 for Delta IV launches since the rocket's maiden flight in November 2002.[156][157] The company had three launch pads at Vandenberg as of April 2017.[158] These include Launch Complex 2 for Delta II launches,[159] Launch Complex 3 for Atlas launches[160][161] and Launch Complex 6 for Delta IV and Delta IV Heavy launches.[162][163] Space Launch Complex 2 is no longer in active use by ULA since the retirement of the Delta II in September 2018.[159]

Launches from Cape Canaveral typically head east to give satellites extra momentum from the rotation of the Earth as they head to other planets or into an equatorial orbit. Vandenberg Air Force Base is the primary U.S. launch site from which satellites are sent into polar orbits. Commercial and military spacecraft like imaging and weather satellites need to be launched southward on a path to reach a polar orbit to cover the entire globe.[164] ULA's Atlas V rocket launched NASA's InSight mission to Mars from the West Coast in 2018, the first interplanetary mission to do so.[165]

In 2015, as part of the company's transition from the Atlas V and Delta IV launch vehicles to the Vulcan Centaur, ULA announced plans to reduce the number of launch pads in use from five to two by the early 2020s.[33]

Headquarters and manufacturing

ULA's headquarters building in Centennial, Colorado

ULA's headquarters in Centennial, Colorado, are responsible for program management, rocket engineering, testing, and launch support functions.[166] ULA's largest factory is 1.6 million square feet (150,000 m2) and located in Decatur, Alabama.[167] A factory in Harlingen, Texas, fabricates and assembles components for the Atlas V rocket.[168] In 2015, the company announced the opening of an engineering and propulsion test center in Pueblo, Colorado.[169]

Spaceflight Processing Operations Center

The Spaceflight Processing Operations Center (SPOC), located near SLC-40 and SLC-41, is used to construct the mobile launcher platform for the Vulcan launch vehicle. It also serve as a storage room for the Atlas Mobile launcher platform (MLP).[170] On August 6, 2019, the first two parts of Vulcan's MLP were transported to the SPOC.[171] SPOC was formerly known as the Solid Motor Assembly and Readiness Facility (SMARF) during its support of the Titan IVB launch vehicle; it was renamed during Vulcan Centaur's topping ceremony on October 2019.[170]

United Launch Alliance Infrastructure articles: 15

Cislunar 1000 Vision

The Cislunar 1000 Vision is a plan created by ULA to create an economy on the Moon and in Earth orbit with 1,000 people living and working in space. A key part of the roadmap is a more powerful version of the Centaur rocket stage, ACES.[172]

ACES is designed for reusability and in situ refueling. It is thought that water collected on the moon or asteroids might be processed to generate the liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen fuel used by ACES. ACES relies on a technology called Integrated Vehicle Fluids (IVF). IVF is an auxiliary power unit not unlike those used on aircraft centered on an internal combustion engine that uses waste hydrogen and oxygen that boils off of cryogenic tanks. IVF reduces weight and cost by reducing the need for helium, hydrazine, and batteries. IVF produces electric power, maintains stage attitude, and helps keep propellant tanks autogenously pressurized. IVF will extend mission lifetimes from hours to days. The internal combustion engine to be used to power the IVF system on ACES will be produced by Roush Racing.[172]

The Cislunar Vision 1000 also includes plans for a tanker called XEUS that will be able to land on the moon to be stocked with fuel to a gravitationally stable “libration point” in the Earth-Moon system known as L1. Producing fuel in space will allow for dramatically cheaper space travel.[172]

ULA is itself willing to become a customer for in-space refueling. It previously announced a willingness to pay $3,000 per kilogram for fuel delivered in low Earth orbit, $500 per kilogram on the lunar surface, and $1,000 per kilogram at L1. ULA believes it will need off-Earth propellant supplies sometime in the 2020s.[172]

United Launch Alliance Cislunar 1000 Vision articles: 4

See also

Past products
Launch Service Providers

Explanatory notes

  1. ^ "V" is the roman numeral 5 and is pronounced as such.


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