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Alabama rocket builder up for SpaceNews reader awards

Alabama’s own rocket manufacturer United Launch Alliance (ULA) is in the running for several SpaceNews Awards for Excellence and Innovation as voted on by readers.

ULA has been nominated for Company of the Year, and its CEO, Tory Bruno, is a nominee for Corporate Leader of the Year.

The company’s Delta II rocket is up for the Unsung Hero of the Year award. The Delta II rocket is manufactured in ULA’s Decatur, Alabama, plant. ULA’s factory in Decatur is 1.6 million square feet and is the largest such facility in the western hemisphere.

ULA and its Alabama employees have powered two historic launches in recent months.

In August, the company’s Delta IV Heavy rocket powered the Parker Solar Probe into space. The rocket will allow the Parker probe to fly seven times closer to the sun and more effectively study solar winds, which disrupt satellites and cause power outages. Just this week, the Parker probe broke the record for flying closer to the sun than any other man-made object.

Then in September, Alabama craftsmanship was again on display as the workhouse Delta II rocket made its much celebrated 155th and final flight into space.

Alabamians will also play a prominent role in the next manned space flights.

NASA announced a plan over the summer to resume manned missions, and ULA rockets from Decatur will power those missions as well.

Bruno accompanied the astronauts for those missions to Decatur to see the rockets that will send them into space.

“It was great for the astronauts to see it, touch it and ask how it is put together,” said Bruno.

And add astronaut Josh Cassada to the list of those recognizing the importance of the Alabama workforce to America’s future in space.

“A few of us had a chance to fly up to Alabama and meet some of the most talented, hardworking men and women at ULA who are building our rocket, and I’ll tell you, we are in great hands,” said Cassada.

Reader voting for the SpaceNews awards will continue here through November 5. The awards will be presented to the winners on December 3.