ULA’s President, Tory Bruno talks company’s future
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla — Following today’s successful flight of an Atlas V 421 rocket carrying the Mexican Morelos-3 communications satellite, United Launch Alliance (ULA) President Tory Bruno met with members of the media to discuss the company’s historic 100th mission.
Formed in December of 2006, ULA celebrated the 100th launch in the company’s nine-year history. The firm utilizes expendable launch vehicles from its Atlas V and Delta IV family of boosters to deliver an array of payloads to orbit.
Speaking on the milestone achievement, Bruno greeted attendees by saying that 100 launches in a row is an “[…] unprecedented record, a tribute to the fleet of rockets and to the hard work of our people.”
Despite concerns over Congressional limitations on the procurement of the Russian-made RD-180 engines currently used on the first stage of the Atlas V rocket, Bruno expressed confidence in ULA’s future.
Bruno expressed confidence that ULA will achieve great things in the next 100 launches. His vision is to “transform the way space is used” by making spaceflight more accessible to commercial and private entities.
Plans within the company are already underway to cut the price of a ride on one of ULA’s rockets in half, as well as reducing the time it takes to prepare each launch vehicle for its mission. In terms of the Morelos-3 launch, the vehicle’s second stage was assembled off-site instead of at the Vertical Integration Facility (VIF) at Space Launch Complex 41 – saving days of vital processing time on the mission.
ULA has plans to fly the Delta IV rocket through 2018 and the Atlas V into the early 2020s, with their successor, the Vulcan rocket, currently in development. Vulcan will have the capability to render human functionality in space a practical possibility by providing the capability to carry very large structures into space, piece by piece, to be assembled on orbit. If everything continues to go as planned, the first Vulcan booster could take to the skies as early as 2019.
In terms of the next 100 launches, which Bruno joked may take as little as five years this time around, he expects to see a larger prevalence of smaller satellites and the establishment of habitats and economic activity in cislunar space ( the region of space that exists between the Earth and the Moon).
Development of these assets could allow humans to expand on the work currently being performed on the International Space Station, as well as what is being done with the numerous commercial ventures that relate to space.
Bruno expressed the view that humanity is on the threshold of a true space-based economy.
“When we are are able to make money in space as a space-based economy, then people will live and work there. Within that window of the next hundred launches, we will see a permanent, expanded human presence in that cislunar space. A thousand people living there and working there – that’s what I see,” Bruno told SpaceFlight Insider.
Video courtesy of SpaceFlight Insider
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