ULA To Introduce 24-Cubesat Dispenser for Atlas V, Offer Free Rides to Universities

ULA To Introduce 24-Cubesat Dispenser for Atlas V, Offer Free Rides to Universities

United Launch Alliance  (ULA) President Tory Bruno announced yesterday that the Atlas V rocket will be equipped with a system capable of taking 24 cubesats into orbit at once as secondary payloads beginning in 2017.   Universities can use it for free and the University of Colorado-Boulder will get the first free slot.

ULA is headquartered in Colorado and Bruno made the most of that connection in announcing the new program at the Colorado State Capitol building in Denver.   Colorado Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia and the President and the Chancellor of the University of Colorado, Bruce Benson and Philip DiStefano, joined him for the event.

Bruno said the  program itself does not yet have a name and invited universities, educators, and students to submit suggestions by December 18, 2015.  The winner will get the second free ride.  Entries should be sent to ULACubeSats@ulalaunch.com using a campus email address.

More broadly, this “transformational” cubesat launch program, as the company advertises it, offers competitive opportunities for universities to launch at least six CubeSats on two Atlas V missions for free.  The company plans to also offer such opportunities on the new Vulcan rocket it is developing to replace the Atlas V.  Bruno said it is part of ULA’s support for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education.   Universities should contact ULA by December 18, 2015 to indicate they are interested in participating.  A request for proposals will be released by ULA in early 2016 and winners will be announced that August.

Launching cubesats — very small satellites 10 centimeters on a side that weigh approximately 1.3 kilograms — as secondary payloads has become commonplace in recent years.   ULA’s cubesat dispenser will be able to take 24 of them at a time.  ULA did not announce prices for customers other than universities who win the free rides through the competitive selection process.  





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