Spaceflight Insider

With end of Atlas V planned, ULA assumes responsibility for marketing and sales of Atlas V

United Launch Alliance Atlas V 411 with NASA OSIRIS-REx mission lifts off from Cape Canaveral's SLC-41 at the very opening of the mission's launch window at 7:05 p.m. EDT (23:05 GMT). Photo Credit: Laurel Ann Whitlock / SpaceFlight Insider

United Launch Alliance Atlas V 411 with NASA OSIRIS-REx mission lifts off from Cape Canaveral’s SLC-41 at the very opening of the mission’s launch window at 7:05 p.m. EDT (23:05 GMT). Photo Credit: Laurel Ann Whitlock / SpaceFlight Insider

Colorado-based United Launch Alliance (ULA) is preparing to move from its Atlas V and Delta IV rocket lines and toward the new “Vulcan” launch system. With some estimates only giving two years left on the rocket’s launch manifest – the company has announced on Monday, Jan. 22, 2018 that it had assumed responsibility for the marketing and sales of Atlas V rocket.

ULA will now assume these activities from Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services who formerly operated the 191 foot (58.3 meter) tall rocket that has been estimated at costing some $109 million (as of 2016) per flight.

“ULA has undergone a tremendous transformation over the last two years, and with our innovative techniques, coupled with world-class reliability and schedule certainty, we are well positioned to offer Atlas V launch services to our current and potential commercial customers,” said Tory Bruno, ULA’s president and CEO via a company-issued release. “ULA will serve as a business partner committed to building a launch strategy that maximizes the commercial provider’s profits and positions them above their competition.”

In 2006, ULA was formed through the combination of Lockheed Martin Space Systems as well as Boeing Defense Space & Security. These organizations provide launch services to U.S. government organizations such as the U.S. Department of Defense and NASA.

“The value of a launch is a lot more than its price tag. ULA Atlas V launch services help customers capture savings and added value by delivering spacecraft to orbit earlier, extending mission life, and providing unsurpassed schedule certainty,” said Bruno. “Lockheed Martin’s Commercial Launch Services organization served its customers well with a flawless record of mission success and strong customer partnerships for more than a decade. We look forward to continuing that legacy of performance, service and precision.”

This announcement means that, on top of managing all of the operational activities relating to the Atlas V, ULA also has the ability to market and sell the rocket’s launch services to commercial customers. However, if the current estimated timeline is accurate, that means this would only extend for around two years.

To date, the Atlas V has conducted some 75 missions and has a 100 percent mission success rate. This arrangement will be led by Tom Tshudy, ULA’s vice president and general counsel who will oversee the new global commercial sales organization. Tshudy was a senior vice president and general counsel for International Launch Services (ILS). He has also served as vice president and general counsel for Lockheed Martin while ILS was a subsidiary to sell and market the Atlas II, III and V family of rockets.





Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology,, The Mars Society and Universe Today.

Reader Comments

So, ULA is planning to retire its RD-170 variant rocket before Russia even finishes testing its own — Angara.

RD-170? Last I heard, it used NPO Energomash RD-180.

RD180 uses the same engine cycle as the RD170 e.g.lox rich preburner to drive reactant pumps, lox rich main engine cycle. Basically a RD180 is one half of a RD170. ULA uses RD180 engines.

ATLAS’s RD-180 and Angara’s RD-191 are, respectively, a two-chamber and a single-chamber versions of the four-chamber RD-170. This engine family is the pinnacle of Soviet engine engineering, but Russia has so far been unable to capitalize on it, sticking with the 60-year-old Soyuz and Proton launchers.

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