Spaceflight Insider

ULA wins competitive contract award for USAF’s STP-3 mission

United Launch Alliance Atlas V 401 rocket Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 41 ULA photo

Photo Credit: United Launch Alliance

Colorado-based United Launch Alliance (ULA) has been awarded a contract to send the Space Test Program-3 (STP-3) mission to orbit on behalf of the United States Air Force. The announcement was made via a release on Thursday, June 29. 

That release noted that the contract had come about as a competitive award under the Air Force’s Phase 1A procurement strategy.

“We are honored that the Air Force has entrusted ULA with launching this important test mission,” said Tory Bruno, ULA’s president and CEO via the release. “ULA offers the most reliable ride to space. With a mission success record of 100 percent and a tremendous heritage of 71 consecutive successful Atlas V launches, we provide the best overall launch service for our customers. ULA is the choice for customers when a critical payload must be delivered to space on-time and safely.”

If everything continues to go as it is presently planned, STP-3 should launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41 in Florida in the summer of 2019 atop an Atlas V 551 rocket. This won’t be the first time that the company, an amalgamation made from parts of Boeing and Lockheed-Martin has launched a mission under this program. ULA sent the first Space Test Program mission aloft in March of 2007. That flight was notable as it marked the first Air Force Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle mission as well as for it being the first flight of an Atlas V rocket.

STP-3 will be comprised of the STPSat-6 space vehicle, as well as an integrated propulsive EELV Secondary Payload Adapter (ESPA) holding up to six payloads (IP-ESPA). STPSat-6 will also carry the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA), Space and Atmospheric Burst Reporting System-3 (SABRS-3) payload, as well as NASA’s Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) experiment among others.




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.

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