A Delta II ELV (Expendable Launch Vehicle) has successfully launched with the NRO L-21 satellite from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
The classified payload for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), marks the opening mission by the United Launch Alliance (ULA) since its formation Dec. 1, 2006.
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‘Today is a major milestone for ULA and our U.S. government customers,’ said Michael C. Gass, president and chief executive officer of the new joint venture.
Estimated annual savings for the government, resulting from the increased efficiencies created by the joint venture, are expected to be about $100-150 million.
‘ULA will offer two robust launch systems that each have an excellent record of mission success,’ said Daniel J. Collins, ULA chief operating officer. â€œOur new combined team is focused on assuring access to space while offering the best and most innovative solutions for current and future national requirements.’
The joint venture is structured as a 50-50 partnership between the two parent companies. After a thorough review and positive recommendation from the Department of Defense, the Federal Trade Commission approved the joint venture on Oct. 3, 2006. The European Union also has approved the joint venture.
Lockheed Martin and Boeing will continue to utilize their respective marketing, sales and contract organizations – Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services for Atlas vehicles, and Boeing Launch Services for Delta vehicles – for commercial and other non-government missions not associated with ULA.