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ULA touts new Vulcan rocket in competition with SpaceX
March 20, 2018 | William Harwood


Artists illustration of a Vulcan rocket launching fr om Cape Canaveral. Credit: United Launch Alliance

SpaceX and its visionary founder Elon Musk win the lions share of public attention in the commercial rocket arena, with dramatic, increasingly routine booster landings and spectacular stunts like the launch of Musks Tesla Roadster on the maiden flight of the companys new Falcon Heavy rocket last month.

But arch-rival United Launch Alliance, a much more buttoned-down corporate alliance between Boeing and Lockheed Martin, is responding to the threat posed by the upstart SpaceX with long-range plans to phase out its workhorse Atlas 5 rocket and costly Delta 4 rockets in favor of a powerful, less-expensive launcher known as the Vulcan.

Featuring reusable engines and an advanced, long-lived upper stage, company executives expect the Vulcan to be a major contender in the increasingly fierce slugfest between SpaceX, ULA and other international launch providers.

That battle was center stage Wednesday when the Air Force awarded SpaceX a $290 million contract to launch three Global Positioning System navigation satellites atop Falcon 9 rockets in late 2019 and 2020.

At the same time, ULA won a $351 million contract to launch two Space Situational Awareness Program satellites using an Atlas 5 rocket in 2020, along with a second flight to launch another pair of military payloads.

I am a big supporter of competition, ULA CEO Tory Bruno said in a recent interview. Makes it an exciting time to be in space, you never know whats going to happen. In my 35 years as a rocket scientist I never thought Id see somebody just launch a car into space for fun. Im not sure what I think of that yet. So yeah Im with you. These are exciting times.

In one sense, ULA is playing the tortoise to SpaceXs hare. Musk was first out of the blocks with development of reusable rocket boosters, but Bruno believes ULAs Vulcan, with reusable first stage engines, makes the most sense financially given current market projections.

He said the Vulcans engines represent two-thirds of the cost of the stage. Under ULAs approach, the engines will be recovered and reused after every flight. SpaceXs design calls for recovery of the entire rocket stage. Depending on the weight of the payload and the requirements of its orbit, that cannot be done on every flight.

It boils down to as simple as this: is it better to recover 100 percent of the value of the booster some of the time or only two thirds of the value of the booster all of the time? Bruno said reporters during a roundtable discussion earlier this week.

Well, that depends on how often you get a big, heavy payload. Weve each made market forecasts, and if were right, our solution will be economically advantageous. If Im wrong and theyre right, then theirs will.

ULA is staking its future on the Vulcan. Equipped with up to six upgraded strap-on solid-fuel boosters, the new rocket will generate some 3.8 million pounds of liftoff thrust.

ULA chief executive Tory Bruno. Credit: Space Foundation

Out-performing ULAs current heavy lift booster, the three-core Delta 4, the Vulcan will be able to boost 80,000 pounds to low-Earth orbit or up to 35,900 pounds to the elliptical geosynchronous transfer orbits GTOs used by communications satellites bound for operational stations 22,300 above the equator.

The least powerful version of the new rocket, one without any solid-fuel boosters and an advanced upper stage known as ACES, is expected to sell for less than $100 million. The base version of ULAs Atlas 5 rocket currently goes for about $109 million, Bruno said, while a heavy lift Delta 4 sells for about $350 million.

Even with six solid-fuel boosters and a large payload fairing, the most powerful version of the Vulcan will still cost more like a quarter or a third of the cost of the Delta 4 Heavy, Bruno said in the interview with CBS News.

For comparison, SpaceX sells a commercial version of its Falcon 9 rocket for $62 million, according to the companys website, although the price climbs to more than $90 million a copy for military missions.

A commercial version of the companys Falcon Heavy rocket, which debuted in February, has a list price of $90 million, but that apparently assumes all three core stages are recovered for reuse. That version of the rocket, according to the SpaceX website, can boost eight metric tons, or 17,600 pounds to geosynchronous transfer orbit.

Thats the version launched last month, roughly equivalent, Bruno said, to a mid-range Atlas. A fully expendable version of the Falcon Heavy can lift nearly 59,000 pounds to that same orbit, easily making it the most powerful rocket in the world.

Bruno said he was impressed by the Falcon Heavy and SpaceXs maturing ability to recover spent rocket stages.

Im a rocket scientist, and that was very cool to watch, he said. I certainly give credit to Elon Musk for sort of creating more excitement around space than we had a decade ago.

But this is not a particularly friendly competition. SpaceXs website brags the Falcon Heavy can lift more than twice the payload of the next closest operational vehicle, the Delta IV Heavy, at one-third the cost.

Not so fast, says Bruno.

Delta Heavy was really designed around the national security, primarily NRO (National Reconnaissance Office) mission set, which has complicated orbits, and its optimized for that, he said. It goes for about $350 million. Its a military mission only, I dont offer it commercially, at least today, theres no commercial market for a Heavy.

The Delta 4, designed by Boeing, and the Atlas 5, built by Lockheed Martin, originally were developed for the Air Force as evolved expendable launch vehicles, or EELVs, intended to provide assured access to space for high-priority national security payloads.

With government approval, the two companies formed a partnership and the first Atlas 5, carrying a commercial satellite, blasted off in August 2002.

SpaceX launched its first Falcon 9 in 2010 and, after Air Force certification and vocal complaints about ULAs perceived monopoly in the military space arena, the California rocket builder was cleared to compete for military contracts.

Weve been competing now for almost two years in the military market space, Bruno said before this weeks Air Force contracts were announced. Falcon 9s are going for about $97 million, $96.5 million, I think, is the most recent one. Theyve won half, weve won half. The government discloses the winners price because were public procurements. So I think we each know what our prices are.

The Falcon Heavy rocket takes off on its first test flight. Credit: Walter Scriptunas II / Spaceflight Now

To compare the Falcon Heavy with the Delta 4, you want to compare government missions, he said. We dont market (the Delta 4) commercially. So I would look at the Falcon 9 at $96.5 million as a single stick. Scale that up to be a Falcon Heavy, which is a three-core version of that rocket, and whatever that price is is what I would compare to $350 million.

If you want to take a massively large payload to LEO (low-Earth orbit), that would be the rocket that would do it. If you want to go higher, you might want to fly on a Delta 4.

But a Falcon Heavy is not made up of three Falcon 9s. It is, more accurately, one Falcon 9 with a modified central stage and two additional Falcon 9 core stages.

SpaceX has said a fully expendable version of the Falcon Heavy, one capable of boosting nearly 59,000 pounds to GTO, would cost around $150 million, less than half the cost of a Delta 4 Heavy.

But ULA says a rockets cost is just one factor in a sale. The company also is selling reliability and schedule certainty.

ULA has launched 76 Atlas 5 rockets and 36 more expensive Delta 4s without a single failure. SpaceX has suffered one catastrophic in-flight failure in 50 Falcon 9 launches to date and one on-the-pad explosion.

A rockets reliability affects insurance rates and meeting a promised launch date means a commercial satellite will start generating revenue as soon as possible. ULA says both of those factors act to reduce the actual cost of a launch on one of its rockets.

Another wild card in the equation is SpaceXs plan to build an even more powerful rocket known as the BFR, for Big F-ing Rocket, intended for eventual missions to Mars. It is not yet clear where the Falcon Heavy fits into the companys long-range plans or whether the BFR will be used for the sorts of payloads ULA hopes to launch on its Vulcan.

But the Delta 4-Falcon Heavy debate will be moot soon enough as ULA phases out the Delta 4 and the Atlas 5 in favor of the Vulcan. Bruno said at least seven to eight more Delta 4s will be launched between now and the early 2020s while the Atlas 5 likely will fly into the mid 2020s, overlapping with the Vulcan program as the new rocket begins operational flights.

In the meantime, the Atlas 5 also will be used to launch Boeings CST-100 commercial crew ship on flights to ferry astronauts to and from the International Space Station. SpaceX also holds a NASA contract to develop a piloted version of its Dragon cargo ship that will launch atop a Falcon 9. Both companies hope to begin routine flights to the station next year.

The maiden flight of the Vulcan currently is targeted for the middle of 2020. Two successful commercial launches are required as part of the government certification process, followed by a required upper stage upgrade to improve performance, either Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10 engines or a different set of engines altogether.

If all goes well, ULA will introduce its new upper stage in 2024, the Advanced Cryogenic Evolved Stage, or ACES, that Bruno says will revolutionize spaceflight.

United Launch Alliances ACES upper stage. Credit: United Launch Alliance

This is on the scale of inventing the airplane, Bruno told reporters during the media roundtable. Thats how revolutionary this upper stage is. Its 1900, and Im inventing the airplane. People dont even know what theyre going to do with it yet. But Im confident its going to create a large economy in space that doesnt exist today. No one is working on anything like this.

The Vulcan will stand 228 feet tall with a first stage powered by two engines provided by either Blue Origin, a company owned by Amazon-founder Jeff Bezos, or Aerojet Rocketdyne. Blue Origins BE-4 engine burns methane and liquid oxygen while Aerojet Rocketdynes AR-1 powerplant burns a more traditional mixture of oxygen and highly refined kerosene.

Both engines will generate between 500,000 and 550,000 pounds of thrust and two will be used to power the Vulcans first stage. Bruno said ULA is nearing a decision on which engine to employ but would not provide any sort of timetable other than to say the company would announce its choice soon.

Theyre both good engines, he told CBS News. They both use the what we think of as a very advanced Russian engine cycle, an oxygen-rich stage combustion that the U.S. has never, ever had, and we now will. They just use two different hydrocarbon fuels as you know, one is kerosene and one is methane.

Both engines have a lot of additive manufacturing content, which takes that Russian technology and makes it a lot more manufacturable and really updates it to modern standards. So they were both good engines. They are both, you know, hitting their marks and wh ere they planned to be. Thats probably all I can say.

Whichever engines are used, the Vulcan first stage is being designed with reusability in mind. But unlike SpaceX, which can recover its Falcon 9 first stage intact with a rocket-powered return to landing on shore or on an off-shore droneship, ULA only plans to recover the Vulcans first stage engines.

ULA plans to begin engine recovery operations after the Vulcan is routinely flying and after the ACES upper stage is implemented.

Bruno said the engines represent two-thirds of the cost of the stage and getting them back every time, with no impact on mission performance, will pay big dividends. SpaceX, in contrast, must use propellant to fly its Falcon 9 stages back to touchdown. Heavy payloads bound for high orbits require most if not all of the rockets propellant and in those cases, recovery may not be possible.

As a result, SpaceXs ability to recover rocket stages depends on its manifest and the orbital demands of those payloads.

ULAs concept for reusing booster engines involves retrieving the engines by a helicopter in mid-air. Credit: United Launch Alliance

Simplistically, if you recover the old booster propulsively then you can do that part of the time, you get all the value back some of the time, Bruno said. Or, you can recover just the engine, which is our concept, and then you get only part of the value back, about two thirds but you get to do it every single time because theres no performance hit. So it really turns into math.

And that math is based on market projections about future satellite builds and the percentage of heavy-weight payloads ULA expects to be launching.

Weve made a forecast of what we think the future marketplace will be and said engine recovery is more financially attractive, Bruno said. I think SpaceX has made different calculus. And well both go to the market and find out whos right.

To recover the Vulcan engines, a small pod housing an inflatable heat shield and a gas generator will be mounted on the bottom of the first stage. After boosting the rocket out of the lower atmosphere, the engines will shut down and the propulsion section will be disconnected, allowing it to fall free.

The heat shield, based on NASA technology, then will inflate using the gas generator, protecting the engines from the heat and stress of atmospheric entry. Once clear of the plasma heating region, a parafoil will deploy to fly the engines to their planned pickup point.

A large helicopter then will swoop overhead, snagging a cable to capture the engine package, which will be lowered to the deck of a nearby salvage ship. A similar technique was used to capture film canisters ejected from Corona spy satellites in the 1960s.

Well separate really the whole back end (of the first stage), Bruno said. Then, were going to re-enter it behind the NASA inflatable heat shield and then pop a parachute, really a parafoil, because that allows us to make sure we fly to GPS coordinates and a big helicopter will be waiting for it and snag it set it down.

Recovering the engines non-propulsively will allow the Vulcan to use virtually all of its propellant to put the payload into the best possible orbit for a pretty modest weight penalty, you know, the weight of a parachute, the weight of the subsystem, Bruno said.

For a booster, five pounds of inert weight only costs one pound of payload, he added, whereas its pound for pound on an upper stage.

In any case, Bruno said the entry environment behind the heat shield is much more benign than what a Falcon 9 experiences with its tail-first propulsive descent and ULA engineers expect engine refurbishment to be a relatively straight forward affair.

The engines that were developing we think are going to be pretty easy to refurbish, Bruno said. What we think were going to do is get them back, inspect them, for the first few times well likely hot fire them to make sure we know how theyre behaving. If theyre behaving the way we expect, well probably stop doing that. Well just clean them up, inspect them and use them.

Along with recoverable first stage engines, the Vulcan first stage features redesigned plumbing with an internal liquid oxygen feed line, freeing up real estate on the side of the rocket for a sixth strap-on solid-fuel booster.

The Vulcan will be marketed in a variety of configurations depending on payload requirements. If all six SRBs are used, liftoff thrust will be 3.8 million pounds, out performing the Delta 4.

ULA has not yet announced which company will provide the upper stage engines used for the rockets initial flights before a planned performance upgrade. But the company expects to introduce the ACES upper stage in 2024.

Featuring up to four hydrogen-fueled rocket engines, ACES will carry three times the propellant of current ULA upper stages, will be able to operate for weeks or months at a time and will enable complex orbital operations near Earth, the moon or beyond.

The keys to its performance are ultra lightweight propellant tanks and dual straight-six internal combustion engines mounted on the bottom of the stage burning gaseous oxygen and hydrogen produced by the normal boil off of propellants in the main tanks.

The 1,000-cc engines, under development at Roush Fenway Racing, will be used to pressurize the propulsion system, push propellants to attitude control jets and generate electrical power, allowing ULA to replace multiple systems with a single solution.

In a conventional stage, youve got to have electrical power, so you have big, long-duration batteries, Bruno said. You have to have an attitude control system, so you have typically an entirely separate propulsion system, usually hydrazine. And then you need to pressurize your propellant, which you use (helium) to do.

Such stages typically have lifetimes measured in hours because the supercold propellants are continually boiling off into gas and batteries lose their power.

ACES solves those problems by using the internal combustion engines to accomplish all of those tasks over an extended period.

The engine has a generator on it just like your car does so you dont need the batteries anymore, Bruno said. And were using the power that comes off of that internal combustion engine to run a compressor and a heat exchanger thats putting energy back into the gases. We pipe them back up into the tank and that pressurizes the tanks. So we dont need helium at all anymore.

Or heavy time-limited batteries.

Each one of these (generators) throws off about 60 kilowatts, Bruno said. We run a Centaur (stage) at about 10 watts. So now youve got 120 kilowatts of electrical power that you could use for other things.

And the same waste hydrogen and oxygen burned by the engines also can be used to power the stages attitude control thrusters, eliminating the need for a separate propulsion system using toxic hydrazine.

So as long as youve got all of this gaseous hydrogen and gaseous oxygen you have propellant, Bruno said. So weve also developed (oxygen-hydrogen) thrusters and weve been testing those as well. They provide the attitude control and that allows us to delete the entire hydrazine system.

So thats how it works. Weve probably got, Id say 300, 350 tests on that engine now. Its pretty cool.



Michael Baylor‏ @nextspaceflight 11h11 hours ago

Cool graphic on the current fleet of @ulalaunch rockets.



  Chris B - NSF‏ @NASASpaceflight
ARTICLE: ULA laying the foundations for an Econosphere in CisLunar space - … nar-space/ Latest reference baseline for CisLunar Econosphere. More to come on Vulcan/ACES. (Thanks to @ulalaunch for putting the slides together and @CUEngineering for webcasting it).


tnt22 … e-pay-off/

Air Force stakes future on privately funded launch vehicles. Will the gamble pay off?
by Sandra Erwin March 25, 2018 … 79x485.png

The Vulcan Centaur rocket. Credit: ULA

Analyst Bill Ostrove: Vulcans first flight has slipped from 2019 to 2020. "The engine choice will affect the design of the entire rocket."

WASHINGTON The schedule is getting tight for the U.S. Air Force as a 2022 deadline looms to bid farewell to the Atlas 5 and switch to a different rocket that is not powered by a Russian engine.

The target date was mutually agreed by Congress and the Air Force in 2016, allowing what was considered sufficient time to find alternatives to the United Launch Alliances Atlas 5 that uses the Russian RD-180 engine. The solution they settled on was for the Air Force to sign deals with the space industry to co-finance the development of new rocket propulsion systems.

The program known as the launch service agreement fits the Air Forces broader goal to get out of the business of buying rockets and instead acquire end-to-end services from companies.

The Air Force signed cost-sharing partnerships with ULA, SpaceX, Orbital ATK and Aerojet Rocketdyne. The original request for proposals noted the Air Force wants to leverage commercial launch solutions in order to have at least two domestic, commercial launch service providers.

The next step is to sel ect three companies this summer to move forward with enginet prototypes.

We are on schedule to make LSA awards in July 2018, a spokesman for the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center told SpaceNews.

The sel ected competitors will face a schedule that seems ambitious even by the standards of commercial space companies.

ULAs CEO Tory Bruno called the launch service agreement a pretty rational approach that puts the onus on the private sector.

As the operator of the Atlas 5 rocket, ULA will come under enormous scrutiny as it moves to develop its replacement, the Vulcan Centaur vehicle. Although the Atlas 5 will continue to be sold commercially, without the ability to offer Atlas 5 to the military after 2022, the future of ULA rests on Vulcan.

Which explains why there is so much anticipation about what engine ULA will sel ect for the reusable first stage of the Vulcan Centaur. It is considering either the BE-4 made by startup Blue Origin or the AR-1 designed by established military contractor Aerojet Rocketdyne. The new first stage would be paired with the existing Centaur upper stage from the Atlas 5. A decision was expected months ago, and Bruno has said recently that it is coming soon.

Asked about the implications of the delayed engine selection on the LSA program, the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center spokesman said officials would not comment on an ongoing source selection.

During a recent talk with reporters, Bruno predicted ULA would be able to meet the LSA timelines regardless of what engine is picked. From the governments perspective, the risk lies in the fact that private industry is bringing most of the money, he said. Thats always what governs a big complicated aerospace development program being funded.

The good news for the government is that there are multiple bidders, Bruno said. That bodes well, that means the government has choices.

Vulcan Centaur is 75 percent privately funded, Bruno said. To remain a contender in the LSA program, it needs to be ready for certification flights by 2020. ULA has agreed to two non-government flights to certify Vulcan for national security missions. The certification could happen as early as 2020 or early 2021.

We feel very confident about our schedule and our plan to achieve that whole timeline, he said.

The engine choice has kept the industry in suspense.

The Blue Origin engine is further along in development than the AR-1, although there are other issues to consider. If we were to select AR-1 that puts more pressure on the schedule, said Bruno. But it does not necessarily invalidate the LSA requirements. I have much less schedule margin if I choose AR-1. But I could still meet the timelines.

Some companies in the LSA program are partners and rivals at the same time. Orbital ATK will compete with its own rocket but it also has invested in the development of the Vulcan solid rocket booster. There is speculation that Blue Origin could also jump into the LSA fray with its New Glenn rocket.

Having a competitor in my supply chain Absolutely that is considered carefully, said Bruno. That is not unusual in our industry. Orbital ATK is not only a competitor and major supplier to ULA but also a ULA customer for cargo missions to the International Space Station.

Orbital ATK has made a substantial investment in developing that component for Vulcan, he noted. The supplier in this case is investing their own money. In exchange we give them a long-term contract that allows us to have stability in pricing.

Blue Origin is investing a considerable amount, he said. To a lesser degree Aerojet Rocketdyne is investing their own funding in AR-1. The engines are the most expensive parts of the rocket, accounting for two-thirds of the cost of the booster.

Timeline too ambitious?

William Ostrove, aerospace and defense analyst at Forecast International, noted that ULA has been on the verge of picking a winner for a long time.

Vulcans first flight has slipped fr om 2019 to 2020, said Ostrove. The engine choice will affect the design of the entire rocket. A decision has to be made if the Air Force is going to stick to the plan of phasing out the Atlas 5 by 2022.

The delay could be adding risk to the Air Force LSA strategy, Ostrove said. For the program to succeed, launch contractors need to have both government and commercial business. If there is no market for these large launch vehicles then the Air Force may have to step in and provide more funds. That is exactly what the Air Force had to do more than a decade ago with Atlas 5 and Delta 4, which were originally intended as dual use.

A contrarian view comes fr om the defense industry establishment. Loren Thompson, of the Lexington Institute a think tank that receives funding fr om ULA owners Boeing and Lockheed Martin, Aerojet and other defense firms has called on the Air Force to keep the Atlas 5 and swap the RD-180 engine for Aerojet Rocketdynes AR-1 rather than develop a new launch vehicle.

In an effort to save time and money, they accept greater risk, Thompson told SpaceNews. In an attempt to spur innovation, they turn to untested commercial products and practices. This approach was an utter failure in the 1990s, and yet we are gradually backing into the same errors again.

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson has expressed confidence in the LSA approach.

We are cost sharing with companies as they develop alternatives to the Russian engine, she told reporters last month on Capitol Hill. We are doing that intentionally. We need a couple of options. Its a risky business, Wilson said.

The program is moving forward as planned, she said. Usually if they havent walked in and said, Houston weve got a problem, it means its continuing on, on schedule.



Tory Bruno‏ @torybruno 39 .

Vulcan is coming


tnt22 … pper-stage

United Launch Alliance Selects Aerojet Rocketdynes RL10 Engine for Next-generation Vulcan Centaur Upper Stage

Centennial, Colo., May 11, 2018 United Launch Alliance (ULA) today announced Aerojet Rocketdyne as a strategic partner for the RL10 upper stage engine for ULAs next-generation Vulcan Centaur rocket following a competitive procurement process.

ULA and Aerojet Rocketdyne have a long and successful history together that began with the first flight of our Atlas and Delta rockets in the 1960s, said Tory Bruno, ULA president and CEO. We could not be more pleased to have selected the proven and reliable RL10 to power our Vulcan Centaur upper stage.

This partnership is a long-term agreement for Aerojet Rocketdyne to provide upper stage propulsion for the next decade. As part of this partnership, Aerojet Rocketdyne will provide RL10s and develop the RL10C-X, the next generation of the RL10 family. The RL10C-X will increase the use of additive manufacturing and introduce other advanced technologies to improve the quality, reliability, affordability and performance.

Key determining factors to our selection included price and delivery schedule, said Bruno. We look forward to continuing our strong partnership to ensure a successful introduction of Vulcan Centaur.

Over the course of nearly 60 years, more than 450 RL10 engines have flown on various ULA heritage vehicles with an unmatched record of mission success.

ULA continues its competitive procurement process for the booster engine and plans to make a down select soon.

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 125 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.


tnt22 … ite-launch

Viasat Selects United Launch Alliance's Proven Atlas V Rocket For Commercial Satellite Launch

PARIS, Sept. 10, 2018 Global communications company, Viasat Inc., (Nasdaq: VSAT) announced today it sel ected United Launch Alliances (ULAs) proven Atlas V vehicle to launch one of its ViaSat-3 satellite missions. This is the first commercial contract ULA has directly signed since assuming responsibility for the marketing and sales of the Atlas V launch vehicle fr om Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services earlier this year.

The Viasat mission will carry one of the ViaSat-3 series spacecraft and is scheduled to launch in the 2020 - 2022 timeframe fr om Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. This mission will launch aboard an Atlas V 551 configuration vehicle, the largest in the Atlas V fleet. The 551 configuration provides the performance to deliver a ViaSat-3 satellite into a high-energy geostationary transfer orbit where it can begin on-orbit operations faster than with other available launch vehicles.

The selection of Atlas V for one of the ViaSat-3 missions is the next step in implementing Viasats integrated launch strategy which is designed to ensure the on-time launch of all of the ViaSat-3 spacecraft through launch vehicle diversity and an integrated approach to launch planning. Viasat will announce specific mission assignments for each of the contracted launch vehicles at a later date.

ULA continues to demonstrate schedule certainty and flexibility, as well as be a trustworthy and reliable business partner. This coupled with unmatched Atlas V launch vehicle reliability and tailored mission design capabilities made ULA a strong partner for a ViaSat-3 launch mission, said Dave Ryan, president, Space Systems at Viasat. ULA is known for providing an innovative launch solution that is focused on mission success, which will allow us to meet our business objectives to bring high-speed, high-quality broadband connectivity to meet end-user demand.

ULAs Atlas V launch vehicle is the most reliable launch vehicle in the world and we could not be more pleased that Viasat, a leading satellite broadband innovator, has recognized the value the Atlas V can offer, and decided to select this rocket to launch its critical commercial communications satellite, said Tory Bruno, ULAs president and CEO.

The ViaSat-3 class of Ka-band satellites is expected to provide unprecedented capabilities in terms of service speed and flexibility for a satellite platform. The first two satellites will focus on the Americas and on Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), respectively, with the third satellite planned for the APAC region, completing Viasat's global service coverage. Each ViaSat-3 class satellite is expected to deliver more than 1-Terabit per second of network capacity, and to leverage high levels of flexibility to dynamically direct capacity to wh ere customers are located.

Atlas V has launched 78 missions with 100 percent success including 17 successful commercial missions. The workhorse rocket also delivered critical science missions for NASA such as Mars Science Lab, Pluto New Horizons and Mars InSight, and critical missions for the Department of Defense including Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) and Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS).


tnt22 … te-launch/

Viasat selects Atlas 5 rocket for broadband satellite launch
September 11, 2018 | Stephen Clark

File photo of an Atlas 5 rocket launch in 2012, using five strap-on solid rocket boosters. Credit: United Launch Alliance

A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket will send one of Viasats next-generation broadband satellites toward geostationary orbit fr om Cape Canaveral some time between 2020 and 2022, the companies announced Monday.

The commercial satellite is one of at least three under development by Viasat to expand the telecom providers broadband reach beyond North America to the global market. Viasat says each satellite in its third-generation network, known as ViaSat 3, will provide more than a terabit per second of Ka-band network capacity.

Under the terms of the contract announced Monday at Euroconsults World Satellite Business Week meeting in Paris, ULA will launch one of the ViaSat 3 satellites on an Atlas 5 rocket from Cape Canaveral, using the launchers most powerful variant with five strap-on solid rocket boosters.

The financial value of the launch contract was not disclosed by ULA or Viasat.

The launch booking is the first commercial contract for ULA since the launch operator took over responsibility for commercial marketing and sales of the Atlas 5 rocket from Lockheed Martin in January. The Atlas 5s last launch with a commercial communications satellite was in 2016, with the EchoStar 19/Jupiter 2 broadband satellite for EchoStar and HughesNet, a competitor of Viasat in the space-to-ground broadband market.

ULAs Atlas 5 launch vehicle is the most reliable launch vehicle in the world and we could not be more pleased that Viasat, a leading satellite broadband innovator, has recognized the value the Atlas 5 can offer, and decided to sel ect this rocket to launch its critical commercial communications satellite, said Tory Bruno, ULAs president and CEO, in a press release announcing the contract.

Viasats three new satellites will be parked in geostationary orbit over the equator, with coverage zones over the Americas, Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East, and the Asia-Pacific region. The first two ViaSat 3 satellites are under construction by Boeing, destined to fly over the Americas and Europe and North Africa.

The companies said in a joint statement that the Atlas 5 rocket, in its most capable configuration, can loft the ViaSat 3 satellite into a high-energy geostationary transfer orbit wh ere it can begin on-orbit operations faster than with other available launch vehicles.

Satellites heading for geostationary orbit, a circular perch more than 22,000 miles (nearly 36,000 kilometers) above Earth, typically deploy from their launchers in an elliptical transfer orbit, then maneuver into their final position with on-board propulsion. The ViaSat 3 satellites will carry plasma thrusters, a fuel-efficient but low-thrust system that can typically take up to six months to make the journey from a transfer orbit to geostationary orbit.

Viasat expects that time will be reduced by the Atlas 5 rocket, which can place the satellite closer to its final orbit, reducing the time needed for orbit-raising and accelerating the spacecrafts entry into commercial service.

One of the ViaSat 3 satellites is reserved to launch fr om French Guiana on an Ariane 5 rocket, and Viasat could use SpaceXs Falcon Heavy to launch another ViaSat 3 spacecraft, converting a previous launch contract for the ViaSat 2 satellite, which the broadband provider switched to an Ariane 5 rocket after Falcon Heavy development delays.

ULA continues to demonstrate schedule certainty and flexibility, as well as be a trustworthy and reliable business partner. This coupled with unmatched Atlas 5 launch vehicle reliability and tailored mission design capabilities made ULA a strong partner for a ViaSat 3 launch mission, said Dave Ryan, president of space systems at Viasat. ULA is known for providing an innovative launch solution that is focused on mission success, which will allow us to meet our business objectives to bring high-speed, high-quality broadband connectivity to meet end-user demand.

Viasat has not determined which ViaSat 3 satellite will launch on each rocket, preferring to keep options open based on market demands and launch availability. Viasat officials emphasized the importance of using a diverse set of launchers in the ViaSat 3 satellite deployments.

The selection of Atlas 5 for one of the ViaSat 3 missions is the next step in implementing Viasats integrated launch strategy which is designed to ensure the on-time launch of all of the ViaSat 3 spacecraft through launch vehicle diversity and an integrated approach to launch planning, ULA and Viasat said in a press release


: 34400
: 10.10.2012
#640 0   18.09.2018 22:55:04

Northrop Grumman‏ @northropgrumman 17 .

Thursday we will be firing one of our newly-developed Graphite Epoxy Motors (GEM) 63. These motors will be used to support intermediate- and large-class launch vehicles including @ulalaunchs #AtlasV. Stay tuned for more info! #NorthropGrumman



Northrop Grumman‏ @northropgrumman 1 .

We are at our test site in Promontory, Utah, as we prepare for the static test of our next generation #GEM63 booster tomorrow! We are partnering with @ulalaunch to qualify these motors for launches beginning next year.



Northrop Grumman‏ @northropgrumman 2 .

First photos coming in of our #GEM63 test! The motor fired for 110 seconds to test various objectives including insulation and ballistic performance. These motors will be used on @ulalaunch #AtlasV vehicles beginning next year. 

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