Air Force awards National Security Space Launch agreements
Salvatore “Tory” Bruno, President and CEO of United Launch Alliance, outlines the changing space launch landscape, and how they are developing new vehicles to meet the Air Force’s latest launch specifications.
Three companies are in the running to provide the Air Force’s next generation space launches. Blue Origin, Northrop Grumman and United Launch Alliance are each developing new rockets to send national security payloads into orbit. ULA’s Vulcan Centaur launch vehicle has yet to fly, but CEO Salvatore “Tory” Bruno told Government Matters that it’s designed to fulfill as many the Air Force missions as possible.
“As we have developed this rocket, we have been given new missions. A new set of… 9 reference missions to fly that are more complicated, higher energy orbits and heavier spacecraft,” Bruno said. “And today with our new analytical tools, we can more efficiently design the rocket to reach those and we can have much more automation in our rocket factory.”
Bruno says that the space industry is rapidly changing, and that ULA now has to compete with other companies to provide launch services.
“The new thing is really the broadening of the industrial base. Just a handful of years ago, ULA was the only company, the only domestic provider that could carry any of these missions to space. Today, we remain the only company that can fly all of the missions,” Bruno said. “But in the last few years there have been new players on the scene and a broadening commercial environment for launch, which is good for the country and enables competition.”