Press Release

RUAG: Strategic Partnership Moves into the Next Round

By SpaceRef Editor
July 14, 2021
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With the signing of the contract for the 5th modification of the development and
production contract (“Mod5) for the Atlas as well as Vulcan Centaur rocket
programs, United Launch Alliance (ULA) and RUAG Space extend and expand their
successful cooperation.

In 2015, United Launch Alliance (ULA) announced a strategic partnership with RUAG Space to
produce composite structures for the Atlas V rocket in the USA. The move was part of the
transition from the Delta and Atlas rocket programs to the next generation of launch vehicles, the
Vulcan family. The Vulcan Centaur launch vehicle will be used for both satellite launches and
manned missions.

Over 120 successful ULA launches with RUAG Space products

As part of the strategic partnership, RUAG Space had set up shop in Decatur (US state of
Alabama) in a 130,000-square-foot ULA building originally used for the Delta program and,
following successful conversion, began operations in 2017. Until 2017, the structures were
produced at RUAG Space’s sites in Zurich and Emmen, Switzerland. The last structure
manufactured in Emmen for the Atlas launch vehicle left Switzerland for the USA at the end of
September 2020 on board an Antonov An-124. Now production is taking place directly on site in
Decatur, where RUAG Space will also manufacture the carbon fiber structures for the new Vulcan
launch vehicle in the future following the successful development and qualification. The payload
fairings in composite technology – consisting of two half-shells that are mechanically joined
together – are manufactured in a modern, partially automated process. RUAG Space’s payload
fairings use a sandwich architecture of aluminum honeycomb material sandwiched between an
inner and outer cover layer of woven carbon fiber. A cork layer applied to the exterior provides
thermal protection against frictional heat generated during launch. Thanks to an innovative
process, the carbon fiber structures required for the payload fairing can be manufactured without
the use of an autoclave and thus more cost-effectively than in the conventional process.

The Decatur facility currently supplies carbon fiber composite structures for ULA’s Atlas launch
vehicles, including the payload fairing for the Atlas V-500 launch vehicle and the interstage adapter
for the Atlas V-400, as well as carbon fiber structures for qualification and future production of the
new Vulcan launch vehicle, including payload fairings, interstage adapters and heat shields. Since
the beginning of the strategic partnership between ULA and RUAG Space, more than 120
successful rocket launches have been carried out by ULA using RUAG Space products.

Cooperation extended and expanded

With the signing of the modification of the production contract (“Mod5”) between ULA and RUAG
Space now completed, the successful cooperation enters the next round. While the production of
the Atlas rocket and the development and qualification of the Vulcan components have been the
focus so far, “Mod5” refers to orders until 2024. The additional order volume for RUAG Space from
the contract modification amounts to 110 million Swiss francs. Holger Wentscher, who heads the
Launchers product group at RUAG Space, says: “I would like to express my sincere thanks to ULA for the trust placed in us and for the cooperative partnership. With my colleagues at our Decatur
facility, I look forward to continuing our shared success story.”

“The partnership between ULA and RUAG has been a vital part of our successes over the many
years,“ says Daniel Caughran, ULA vice president of Productions, Operations and Supply Chain.
“The recent contract modification reflects the ongoing trust and commitment to the partnership with
RUAG Space as we proceed towards the first launch, and many future launches, of the Vulcan

This media release can be found here:
Information on RUAG International: Philipp Bircher, Director Communications Space,

+41 79 790 11 81, 

SpaceRef staff editor.