CEO Says Efforts to Prematurely Halt the RD180 Engine “Uncompetitive” and a Threat to Assured Access to Space

PDF of Tory Bruno Testimony for Download

Washington, D.C., (March 17, 2015) – United Launch Alliance (ULA) President and CEO Tory Bruno testified today to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Armed Services, Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, regarding the future of space launch and how his company is innovating and transforming to provide more affordable space launch services.

Bruno noted that space systems are an integral part of today’s technology-driven world and are critical to not only our national security, but to the country’s economic prosperity and scientific advancement. ULA’s launch record of reliable, on time, on or under budget, and 100 percent mission success position ULA to remain the undisputed leader of this industry. In addition, a report released by the GAO last week confirmed that ULA’s collaboration on improved acquisition for the Air Force through a five-year block buy resulted in $4.4 billion in savings for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program, accounting for one quarter of the total savings.

During his testimony, Bruno noted that only ULA has the capability to launch all of the nation’s assets, which means that it is critical that ULA maintain its supply of the RD-180 engine that is the workhorse of the Atlas launch vehicle until the new launch system is in place. The new launch system, which includes an American-made engine, is expected to produce its first flight in 2019 with full certification in 2022-2023.

“If the RD-180 is prematurely cut off before a new engine and vehicle is certified, there will be no other launch provider who can perform the full range of launch capabilities currently required under the law,” Bruno said referring to Assured Access to Space, which requires that the nation maintain two launch vehicles at all times to support the nation’s launch requirements. “The current narrow interpretation of the Defense Authorization bill, could preclude ULA from receiving previously ordered engines, which means the Air Force would only have one provider. Not only is that anti-competitive, it puts the Air Force national security mission requirements at risk.”

“The space launch industry is entering a new era and we couldn’t be more excited about our role in transforming the nation’s launch capabilities,” said Bruno, a 30-year veteran of the rocket industry. “ULA knows what it takes to provide assured access to space, and we’re very proud to be the nation’s provider. We are building on that success by creating a next-generation launch vehicle that will maintain all the reliability and heritage of the Atlas and Delta, but will be more affordable with higher capability to meet the country’s future needs.”

ULA has consistently delivered 100 percent mission success for 94 consecutive launches and is currently at a tempo of greater than one launch per month. ULA’s Atlas V and Delta IV rockets are the most powerful and most reliable in the world, and are the only rockets that fully meet the needs of the national security community.

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 90 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.

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