RUAG Space will supply carbon structures for United Launch Alliance's (ULA's) new Vulcan Centaur launch vehicle. This was announced by both companies at the Space Symposium in Colorado Springs on Tuesday. An agreement to this effect was signed by U.S. launch manufacturer United Launch Alliance and RUAG, and is an expansion in the supplier partnership enabling significant future savings in composite structures.
The agreement governs the supply of various carbon-fiber-reinforced structures for ULA launchers. Back in August, RUAG and ULA announced a strategic partnership with the objective of building a new RUAG production location in the ULA plant in Decatur, Alabama.
RUAG Space has been supplying carbon-fiber-reinforced components for ULA's Atlas V launcher for over a decade, and this new agreement signals a major expansion of this supplier relationship. Starting in 2019, RUAG will supply a second type of payload fairing that will be smaller than the one it currently delivers. Both fairings are to be used on ULA's new Vulcan launcher as well. Located at the tip of the launcher, the payload fairing houses the satellites, gives the rocket its aerodynamic shape and protects the delicate cargo.
Over the long term, RUAG Space is planning to produce all these components for the U.S. launchers in Decatur, Alabama. A suitable production location is already being set up and production of the first flight hardware in Decatur is scheduled to start in 2018.
The Atlas V launcher is designed to carry medium to heavy payloads and is suitable both for government and commercial space missions. In developing Vulcan, ULA is lining up the successor to the Atlas V. The new launcher is scheduled to enter service by the end of the decade.