ULA Names Chris Ellerhorst Vice President, Kuiper Program

Chris Ellerhorst (Credit: ULA)

ULA Establishes New Program Office to Support Amazon Commercial Launches

CENTENNIAL, Colo., May 16, 2022 (ULA PR) – United Launch Alliance (ULA) announced today it is establishing a new customer program office to support Amazon’s Kuiper Program and named Chris Ellerhorst vice president.

“Following the contract announcement that ULA will be launching the majority of Amazon’s Kuiper constellation on nine Atlas and 38 Vulcan launch vehicles, we are standing up a new program office to support this customer,” said Tory Bruno, ULA’s president and CEO. “Chris’ extensive knowledge of customer requirements, his commitment to ensuring mission success as well as his unwavering dedication to serving the customer’s needs make him the perfect person to lead this new program office.”

“I am truly honored to lead ULA’s new program office for Project Kuiper,” said Ellerhorst. “Amazon is an important customer with an exciting and meaningful mission, and I look forward to bringing ULA’s unmatched launch service capabilities, industry-leading mission operations and assurance to this program – delivered by the most experienced workforce in the industry.”

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Aerojet Rocketdyne Secures Largest RL10 Engine Contract From United Launch Alliance

Aerojet Rocketdyne recently completed successful hot-fire testing of a full-scale, additively manufactured thrust chamber assembly for the RL10 rocket engine at its West Palm Beach, Florida facility. (Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne)

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) – United Launch Alliance (ULA) recently awarded the largest RL10 contract ever to Aerojet Rocketdyne to deliver 116 RL10C-X engines for its Vulcan Centaur rocket. The new engines will support ULA as it works to fulfill its commitments under a contract they recently received from Amazon, as part of the largest commercial launch contract in history, to support the launch of its Kuiper satellite constellation.

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Amazon Selects Blue Origin’s New Glenn for up to 27 Project Kuiper Constellation Launches

New Glenn on the launch pad. (Credit: Blue Origin)

KENT, Wash. (Blue Origin PR) — Blue Origin today announced New Glenn has been selected for 12 launches, with options for up to 15 additional launches to deploy Amazon’s Project Kuiper satellite constellation. Project Kuiper’s constellation of 3,236 advanced satellites aims to deliver high-speed, low-latency broadband service globally. The launches are manifested for a five-year period from Launch Complex 36 (LC-36) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, which Blue Origin has rebuilt from the ground up.  

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Arianespace Signs Unprecedented Contract with Amazon for 18 Ariane 6 Launches to Deploy Project Kuiper Constellation

Artist’s view of the configuration of Ariane 6 using four boosters (A64) (Credit: ESA – D. Ducros)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Arianespace PR) — Arianespace and Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) announced an unprecedented launch service contract during the International Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, USA, on April 5. Under the terms of the contract, Arianespace will perform 18 Ariane 6 launches for Amazon’s Project Kuiper over a period of three years from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana. Among the 18 launches planned for the deployment of the Project Kuiper, 16 will be carried out with an advanced version of the Ariane 64.

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Amazon Signs Contract with United Launch Alliance for 38 Project Kuiper Launches on Vulcan Centaur

Artist’s conception of Vulcan Centaur rocket. (Credit: ULA)

CENTENNIAL, Colo., April 5, 2022 (ULA PR) – United Launch Alliance (ULA) announced today that Amazon has selected its next-generation Vulcan rocket for 38 launches supporting deployment for its ambitious Project Kuiper, Amazon’s initiative to increase global broadband access through a constellation of 3,236 advanced satellites in low Earth orbit. 

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Bezos Got Astronaut Wings, Amazon Got a Union

Jeff Bezos

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Jeff Bezos and the billionaire founders of other human spaceflight companies like to talk about how sending the rich and famous and just plain rich to space will change the world. On Friday, it did. But, not in the way the Amazon founder thought.

“We want to thank Jeff Bezos for going up to space, because while he was up there, we were organizing a union,” ex-Amazon worker Christian Smalls said after workers at a Staten Island fulfillment center voted to form the company’s first union.

The vote came two years almost to the day that Smalls led a walkout of the warehouse on March 30, 2020, to protest what he and other workers called inadequate measures to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. Smalls was fired for his effort, and later led the unionization drive.

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Mariana Garavaglia Joins Relativity Space In Dual Role As Chief Business And People Officer

LOS ANGELES (Relativity Space PR) — Relativity Space, the first company to 3D print entire rockets and build the largest metal 3D printers in the world, is announcing Mariana Garavaglia as its first Chief Business and People Officer. After having served as an advisor to Relativity since summer 2021, in her new role, Mariana will oversee its Talent Acquisition, People, Legal, Security, and Environmental Health and Safety teams.

As a leader known for her ability to catalyze scale and growth, Mariana most recently served as Chief Operating Officer at Peloton Interactive, Inc., where she led a variety of key scaling functions from: Enterprise Technology and Global Talent to Security and Environmental Health & Safety. Her role also encompassed core human resources disciplines with a strategic emphasis on talent acquisition, engagement, development, and retention, serving as Peloton’s first Chief People Officer prior to extending her scope to encompass Business and Core Operations over the course of her tenure.

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Kaboom! ABL Space Destroys Second Stage in Test at Mojave

ABL Space Systems lost a second stage during a test in Mojave on Jan. 19, 2022. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

MOJAVE, Calif. — A loud boom echoed across California’s Mojave Desert on Wednesday afternoon. I would normally pay little attention to it given how common such occurrences are in Mojave. But, this one was different: instead of nearly daily boom-boom of jet fighters from nearby Edwards Air Force Base going supersonic, this one was a single large BOOM!

And oh, there was a giant cloud of black smoke rising from the rocket test area at the Mojave Air and Space Port. Someone’s engine test had clearly gone awry.

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Callisto Technology Demonstration to Fly Aboard Orion for Artemis I

Artist’s impression of Orion over Earth. (Credit: NASA/ESA/ATG Medialab)

By Erika Peters
NASA Johnson Space Center

HOUSTON — Flying on NASA’s Orion spacecraft during the uncrewed Artemis I mission will be Callisto, a technology demonstration developed through a reimbursable space act agreement with Lockheed Martin. Lockheed Martin has partnered with Amazon, and Cisco to bring the Alexa digital assistant and Webex video collaboration aboard Orion’s first flight test in deep space.

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Amazon Kuiper Satellite Broadband will be Awesome…One Day

Video Caption: Amazon’s Project Kuiper is an initiative to increase global broadband access through a constellation of satellites in low Earth orbit. In this video, residents and small business owners in Cle Elum, Washington share how their community is affected by limited broadband access, and Project Kuiper team members share more about their mission is to deliver fast, affordable broadband to unserved and underserved communities around the world.

Learn more about Project Kuiper: https://www.aboutamazon.com/news/inno….

Planned Comsat Constellations Now Exceed 94,000 Satellites

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A wave of new applications submitted to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last week for approval for communications satellites operating in the V band has sent the number of spacecraft in large constellations soaring to nearly 100,000.

A list compiled by Parabolic Arc shows that 94,255 satellites are included in the constellations. That number includes 29,439 satellites approved by the FCC or in development in China. The FCC has applicants pending before it for another 64,816 satellites.

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Astra Space Applies to Launch More than 13,000 Satellites; Proposed Broadband Constellations Exceed 79,000 Spacecraft

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Astra Space has applied to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) the launch more than 13,000 communications satellites into low Earth orbit (LEO), joining SpaceX, OneWeb, Amazon and other companies seeking to provide broadband services across the globe. The application brings the number of proposed satellites in these constellations to more than 79,000.

“The Astra Constellation as proposed would ultimately consist of as many as 13,620 operational LEO satellites, supported by a global network of gateway earth stations utilizing the identified V-band frequency bands for feeder links for space-to-earth transmit and receive,” the company’s application said.

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5G + LEO: Verizon and Project Kuiper Team Up to Develop Connectivity Solutions

  • Strategic collaboration aims to pair Verizon’s terrestrial mobile network with Amazon’s low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite network, Project Kuiper.
  • Project Kuiper to deliver cellular backhaul solutions to extend Verizon’s 4G/LTE and 5G data networks, connecting rural and remote communities in the U.S.
  • Verizon and Project Kuiper to explore joint connectivity solutions for domestic and global enterprises across agriculture, energy, manufacturing, education, emergency response, transportation and other industries.

BASKING RIDGE, N.J. (Verizon PR) — Today, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, Nasdaq: VZ) and Project Kuiper, an advanced low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite network from Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN), announced a strategic collaboration to develop connectivity solutions for unserved and underserved communities. As part of the collaboration, Project Kuiper and Verizon have begun to develop technical specifications and define preliminary commercial models for a range of connectivity services for U.S. consumers and global enterprise customers operating in rural and remote locations around the world.

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A Closer Look at Blue Origin’s First Crewed New Shepard Flight with Jeff Bezos & Friends

New Shepard (NS-14) lifts off from Blue Origin’s Launch Site One in West Texas. (Credits: Blue Origin)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

On Tuesday morning, Jeff Bezos and his three companions — Mark Bezos, Wally Funk and Oliver Daemen — will be aboard the first crewed flight of Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital vehicle. The flight will include the youngest (Daemen), oldest (Funk) and richest (Jeff Bezos) people ever to fly to space.

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NBC Today Show Segment with Richard Branson About Upcoming Virgin Galactic Suborbital Flight

Video Caption: At his SpacePort in New Mexico, where he is preparing to ride to the edge of space, this weekend, beating another billionaire, Jeff Bezos, by just over a week, Sir Richard Branson shared an exclusive look behind the scenes, including the spaceship he and five others will be flying in. NBC’s Tom Costello reports for TODAY from Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.

Editor’s Note: Everyone who sees SpaceShipTwo and goes crazy over it like Tom Costello does in this report. The vehicle is, as Branson says in the video, what you imagine a spaceship should look like. He has on multiple occasions accurately referred to it as “sexy”. Personally, it was one of the few things in Mojave that reminded me I am living in the 21st century.

But, looks can be deceiving. It’s a complex vehicle that requires two pilots to fly. The nitrous oxide SpaceShipTwo uses is a monopropellant, meaning it can explode on its own. It did once, claiming three the lives of three engineers working on the engine in an accident that NBC seems to have forgotten about. And the ship needs to be reconfigured for reentry using twin tail booms known as the feather. Premature unlocking of the system caused a fourth fatality and destroyed the first SpaceShipTwo.

Those specific issues have been addressed. But, the ship is still risky to fly on; it is rocket science. And there are no mandatory safety regulations to protect anyone on board. The technology is very much on the edge.

It’s kind of disturbing to see a reporter getting all excited and asking Branson when he can fly on it. He got seduced by the look of the vehicle and the excitement of the flight without fully understanding the risks or conveying them to viewers.

Costello was also talking to a guy who is a major risk taker. Branson included an appendix in his latest autobiography that chronicles 75 near-death experiences he has had in his life. The man thrives on facing danger and the enormous public attention his actions generate.

I don’t know if SpaceShipTwo flight is the riskiest thing he has ever done, but it’s pretty high up on the list. And this upcoming flight on Sunday is a test. SpaceShipTwo is still in a test flight program that has lasted 11 years.

The flight on Sunday will in all likelihood go just fine. But, space travel remains risky. It’s not simply a souped-up rollercoaster ride.