United Launch Services has been awarded a firm-fixed-price contract, worth around $98.5 million, to provide launch service completion for three National Security Space Launch (NSSL) Atlas V missions.
Out of the three previously ordered NSSL missions, two are in support of the U.S. Air Force (USAF) and one is for National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). The USAF’s Space and Missile Systems Center is the contracting activity.
Work will be performed at Centennial, Colorado; Decatur, Alabama; and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, and is expected to be completed by Nov. 30, 2020.
ULS is a subsidiary of U.S. launch service provider United Launch Alliance (ULA), which is a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin. On behalf of ULA, ULS contracts for launch services using the Atlas and Delta launch vehicles.
Atlas V is an expendable launch system originally designed by Lockheed Martin, now being operated by ULA.
Each Atlas V rocket consists of two main stages. The first stage is powered by a Russian RD-180 engine manufactured by RD Amross and burning kerosene and liquid oxygen. The Centaur upper stage is powered by one or two US RL10 engine(s) manufactured by Aerojet Rocketdyne and burning liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen.
AJ-60A strap-on solid rocket boosters (SRBs) are used in some configurations and will be replaced by GEM-63 SRBs in the near future.
The standard payload fairings are 4 or 5 meters in diameter with various lengths.