CENTENNIAL, Colo., March 18, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- NASA's Launch Services Program announced today that it selected United Launch Alliance's (ULA's) proven Atlas V vehicle to launch its next-generation sun explorer called Solar Orbiter. This award resulted from a competitive procurement under NASA Launch Services contracts that considered multiple launch providers.
"We are honored that NASA has selected ULA to provide the launch service for this exciting science mission," said Jim Sponnick, ULA vice president of Atlas and Delta Programs. "ULA has enjoyed a strong partnership with NASA and our highly reliable Atlas V vehicle has successfully launched numerous missions including Pluto New Horizons, Juno, Mars Science Lab and most recently the Maven mission to Mars."
The Solar Orbiter mission is scheduled to launch in July 2017 from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. This mission will launch aboard an Atlas V 411 Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV), which includes a 4-meter diameter payload fairing and one solid rocket motor.
"With 43 successful missions spanning a decade of operational service, the commercially developed Atlas V is uniquely qualified to provide launch services for these critical science missions," said Sponnick.
Solar Orbiter is a mission dedicated to solar and heliospheric physics. It is the first medium-class mission of the European Space Agency's Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 program. The program will seek answers to scientific questions about the development of planets and the emergence of life, how the solar system works, the origins of the universe, and the fundamental physics at work in the universe.
With more than a century of combined heritage, United Launch Alliance is the nation's most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 75 satellites to orbit that provide critical capabilities for troops in the field, aid meteorologists in tracking severe weather, enable personal device-based GPS navigation and unlock the mysteries of our solar system. Reliable launch, real-world benefits.
For more information on ULA, visit the ULA website at www.ulalaunch.com, or call the ULA Launch Hotline at 1-877-ULA-4321 (852-4321). Join the conversation at www.facebook.com/ulalaunch and twitter.com/ulalaunch.
SOURCE United Launch Alliance