Spaceflight Insider

United Launch Alliance gets new chief operating officer

John Elbon, then Boeing's vice president and general manager, addresses a crowd at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor's Complex during the grand opening of the Heroes and Legends attraction. Photo Credit: Kevin O'Connell / NASA

John Elbon, then Boeing’s vice president and general manager, addresses a crowd at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex during the grand opening of the Heroes and Legends attraction in 2016. Photo Credit: Kevin O’Connell / NASA

With the retirement of Dan Collins earlier this year from United Launch Alliance (ULA) after serving 11 years as its Chief Operating Officer (COO), the search for a replacement began. ULA has now named John Elbon as that replacement.

Elbon comes to ULA via The Boeing Company where he was vice president and the general manager for space exploration at Boeing Defense, Space, & Security. In that position he was responsible for the direction of the company’s civil space programs as well as supporting NASA programs, including the International Space Station, the Space Launch System, and also the commercial crew development program, which is preparing to launch the first CST-100 Starliner spacecraft later this year on an uncrewed test flight.

With a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology, he had a nearly 35-year-long career at Boeing. There, he managed several NASA programs including the now-cancelled Constellation program, ISS, and the Checkout, Assembly & Payload Processing Services (CAPPS) contract at the space agency’s Kennedy Space Center.

In a press release, ULA said Elbon, as vice president and program manager of ISS, led Boeing in its role as prime integrating contractor for NASA’s ISS contract to design, develop, test, launch and operate the orbiting facility, which saw the first modules launch in 1998.

“We could not be more pleased to have John join the ULA leadership team during this exciting time of transformation,” said ULA President and CEO Tory Bruno in a company statement. “John brings a tremendous amount of expertise in the area of civil space, and his leadership will continue to help ULA drive its world-leading reliability, schedule confidence, and mission optimization – delivering value unmatched by any launch services company in the industry.”




Lloyd Campbell’s first interest in space began when he was a very young boy in the 1960s with NASA’s Gemini and Apollo programs. That passion continued in the early 1970s with our continued exploration of our Moon, and was renewed by the Shuttle Program. Having attended the launch of Space Shuttle Discovery on its final two missions, STS-131, and STS-133, he began to do more social networking on space and that developed into writing more in-depth articles. Since then he’s attended the launch of the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover, the agency’s new crew-rated Orion spacecraft on Exploration Flight Test 1, and multiple other uncrewed launches. In addition to writing, Lloyd has also been doing more photography of launches and aviation. He enjoys all aspects of space exploration, both human, and robotic, but his primary passions lie with human exploration and the vehicles, rockets, and other technologies that allow humanity to explore space.

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