Tony Bruno, United Launch Alliance President and chief executive, announced that the company was going to focus more on commercial launches going forward. Initially, they were assisting the United States government with a backlog of national security launches. The company spent its first 10 years in operation providing this kind of assistance, hoping to help the government avoid a security crisis in space.
The United States government initially turned to United Launch Alliance for assistance due to concerns about cost. Replacement satellites were running late, and certain payloads were lost or destroyed in some launches. The United Launch Alliance has a stellar track record of safe and reliable launches behind them, attracting the eye of a government hoping to save funds and reduce the risk of lost payloads.
Now that there is no longer a backlog to contend with, United Launch Alliance wants to switch focus on commercial launches, which was the intent all along. They have already replaced Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services as the commercial marketer of the Atlas 5 rocket. There are plans for the company to take on more projects like this in the coming months.
Focusing more on commercial applications helps the company develop better and more adaptable customized solutions for each one of their customers. Many vehicles need to be customized depending on payload size and weight. Switching to this type of focus can help United Launch Alliance meet the needs of their existing new customers better.
Working directly with the final consumer also helps the company develop ideal solutions faster and at a lower cost. They can have their engineers physically in the room with others as they collaborate on workable solutions. This kind of approach can also help cut costs, making the final product much cheaper for the end user in the end.
Not content with just marketing the Atlas 5, United Launch Alliance is also set to take over the marketing for the Vulcan. The first Vulcan mission is currently scheduled for 2020, and there are numerous interested organizations. While United Launch Alliance has yet to sell a mission, they are hopeful that it can happen soon. The company hopes to skip test flights and move directly toward active flights carrying a payload for customers. After those first few flights, the company hopes to then have it certified for use with US government payloads, which could increase its appeal to other commercial organizations.
Despite this switched focus, the company still plans on doing a lot of business with the government, working on notational space security and NASA-based scientific missions approximately 70 percent of the time.