Shelby Hails ULA During Decatur Visit

U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) at the ULA production facility in Dacatur. (Credit: ULA)

DECATUR, Ala., March 24, 2012 (ULA PR) — U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby today discussed important issues facing Alabama and the nation, including job growth, during his visit to the United Launch Alliance (ULA) production facility in Decatur, Ala., where ULA manufactures both Atlas and Delta launch vehicles. ULA launches critical space capabilities for the Department of Defense, NASA, the National Reconnaissance Office and other commercial customers.

Sen. Shelby toured ULA’s production facility and hosted a town hall meeting with Decatur-area constituents, including ULA employees.

Sen. Shelby’s remarks included the health of the aerospace sector in the state and highlighted ULA as an Alabama success story. ULA has added 150 new jobs at its Decatur facility since 2011 and plans to add 70 more jobs this year. ULA is scheduled to launch its 59th mission next Thursday, March 29, from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The payload is the first of four missions the company will launch for the National Reconnaissance Office this year.

“In light of sustained high unemployment rates, I am pleased that ULA employs hundreds of Alabamians and plans to hire dozens more producing the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle here in Decatur,” said Sen. Shelby. “These high-skilled workers assemble a unique national asset whose success currently underpins the very existence of our national security space program.  ULA’s presence is welcome in Alabama.  I appreciate the opportunity to have a conversation with the company’s workers and the citizens of Decatur to discuss our country’s deepest challenges and lay out a positive vision for the future.”

ULA, headquartered in Colorado, conducts major fabrication, assembly and integration operations at the 1.6 million square foot state-of-the-art facility in Decatur. Atlas V mechanical structures, payload fairing and adapter fabrication and assembly take place in Harlingen, Texas. ULA rockets are launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., and Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

“As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of Dr. Wernher von Braun’s birth, ULA values our partnership with Alabama…a state rich in rocket history,” said Michael Gass, ULA’s chief executive officer. “Mr. von Braun advanced rocket science for our great nation. ULA is proud to have a major presence in Alabama and are pleased to be growing our launch vehicle production operations in the state.”

A joint venture of Lockheed Martin and The Boeing Co., ULA was created to provide affordable and reliable launch services for the U.S. government. Backed by more than 100 years of combined Atlas and Delta experience, ULA has delivered a consistent launch tempo and 100 percent mission success in its first five years of operations. ULA has met and exceeded its commitments to the U.S. government in annual savings due in part to consolidation of its production facilities, exceeding the original two-to-one savings goal.   Critical to that savings is consolidating from five production sites to two, including moving Atlas tank fabrication, Atlas and Centaur upper stage final rocket assembly, and Centaur tank fabrication from Denver and San Diego to Decatur. Additionally, Atlas tank fabrication was moved from Denver to Decatur and Centaur tank fabrication was moved from San Diego to Decatur.

ULA program management, engineering, test and mission support functions are headquartered in Denver, Colo. Manufacturing, assembly and integration operations are located at Decatur, Ala., and Harlingen, Tex. Launch operations are located at Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., and Vandenberg AFB, Calif.