Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., (July 6, 2011) – On behalf of the men of women of United Launch Alliance (ULA), we would like to recognize the outstanding contributions to mankind of NASA’s Space Shuttle Program.
“ULA congratulates NASA and its dedicated workforce for more than 30 years of launching American heroes into space, enabling scientific discovery, increasing our understanding of our planet and its changing climate, and facilitating the assembly of the International Space Station – providing humanity’s most extended presence in space,” said Michael Gass, President and CEO of ULA.
Although the space shuttle will launch its final mission just days from now, ULA is supporting NASA exploration efforts with five missions planned in six months, delivering critical NASA payloads to orbit in support of the global science community.
“We are proud to be one of NASA’s partners since the launch of John Glenn 50 years ago and are looking forward to playing a critical role supporting the global science community,” said Gass. “This campaign is unprecedented not only for its reach across the solar system, but also for its tempo and precision.”
While the shuttle program is coming to an end, exploration continues. Last month, an ULA Delta II launched Aquarius, improving our understanding of Earth’s climate and will provide unprecedented global maps of ocean surface salinity to better understand the links between ocean circulation, the global cycling of freshwater and climate.
In August, an Atlas V will launch Juno on a five-year journey to Jupiter to unlock its inner secrets. The year-long Juno mission will improve our understanding of the solar system’s beginnings by revealing the origin and evolution of the giant planet.
In September, a Delta II will send GRAIL to map the Moon’s quirky gravitational field in unprecedented detail. The twin-spacecraft GRAIL mission will mark the first time a NASA planetary mission has carried an imager specifically for the purpose of education and public outreach.
In October, a Delta II will launch the National Polar-Orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) Preparatory Project (NPP) into polar orbit and will carry a diverse payload of scientific instruments to monitor the planet’s atmospheric temperature and humidity sounding, sea surface temperature, land and ocean biological productivity, and cloud and aerosol properties.
Finally, in November, an Atlas V will launch the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) with Curiosity, the largest ever Mars rover on a mission to the red planet. The rover is five times larger and will carry more than 10 times the weight of previous Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity. MSL will assess whether Mars is a habitable environment able to support life.
“Together, the NASA Launch Services Program and ULA have demonstrated 20 years of 100 percent mission success, launching one mission at a time,” said Dan Collins, ULA Chief Operating Officer. “While we have more than 1,300 successful launches behind us, we will continue to treat each of these missions as if they were our first. This philosophy and the rigorous processes of mission assurance developed over five decades continue to serve us well.”
In addition, under the Commercial Crew Program, ULA is proud to be the launch vehicle of choice for Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser and Blue Origin’s Space Vehicle, and compete to support Boeing’s CST-100 program. Working together with NASA, these established companies and entrepreneurs plan to usher in a bold new era of human spaceflight; not only transporting NASA astronauts to the International Space Station, but opening spaceflight to non-government passengers for the first time.
ULA's next NASA launch is the Atlas V Juno mission currently scheduled for Aug. 5, 2011 from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
ULA program management, engineering, test and mission support functions are headquartered in Denver, Colo. Manufacturing, assembly and integration operations are located at Decatur, Ala., Harlingen, Texas, San Diego, Calif. Launch operations are located at Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., and Vandenberg AFB, Calif.
For more information on ULA, visit the ULA Web site at www.ulalaunch.com, or call the ULA Launch Hotline at 1-877-ULA-4321 (852-4321).