In the market for a rocket? ULA launches 'RocketBuilder' site

ULA says site is designed to make launch service pricing transparent

With ULA's RockerBuilder.com people can build a launch vehicle without ever leaving the comfort of their homes.
With ULA's RockerBuilder.com people can build a launch vehicle without ever leaving the comfort of their homes. (RocketBuilder)

WASHINGTON – Interested parties searching for the perfect rocket to transport their payload to space, have no fear, United Launch Alliance has it covered.

The commercial launch company revealed a new “RocketBuilder” website on Wednesday, the day before their 100th anniversary, to help customers learn about rocket buying options.

It’s just like piecing together a dream car, minus the horse power and add more than 850,000 pounds of thrust.

Users can build their desired launch vehicle, select a launch date, orbit, rocket configuration and extra services before sending their choices to ULA for review.

An Atlas V with a 1,000 pound payload starts at $109 million.

After someone submits their rocket build design, ULA will be notified and a request will be sent to ULA or Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services to follow up with the client, ULA spokeswoman Jessica Rye said.

The company said the goal behind the site is to “set a new standard for pricing transparency.”

“This site continues ULA’s transformation to make space more affordable and accessible, and as we celebrate our company’s 100th anniversary tomorrow, there is no better way to underscore our tremendous progress towards a sub--$100 million rocket launch service,” ULA CEO Tory Bruno said in a news release.

The $100 million price tag may seem steep, but it’s actually a bargain. The average price of launch services for an Atlas V or Delta IV Heavy for the U.S. government is around $225 million, according to ULA’s website, ULAlaunch.com.

ULA is a partnership between Lockheed Martin and Boeing that provides launch vehicles for many NASA and U.S. Air Force missions.

Mission costs vary depending on the payload, performance and thrust needed, according to ULA.

“Comparing not only the cost of a mission, but the important value items such as schedule certainty is critical for customers, especially our commercial customers,” Bruno said. “An estimated launch slip of just three months can cost a customer upwards of $12 million in lost revenue and $18 million of deferred revenue. ULA’s average launch date slip has been less two weeks for the past five years.”

The “launch slip” statement was possibly a hint of shade towards ULA’s major commercial competitor SpaceX that suffered a Falcon 9 explosion in September. The explosion was estimated to cost SpaceX CEO Elon Musk $120 million dollars and months of delays before the company can return to launch.

ULA said their customers have "unmatched" affordable launch insurance coverage because of the company's reliable record.

For those who don’t intend to buy a rocket, but still want to learn about the launch process they can still browse on RocketBuilder.com, or NASA has a free app, RocketScience 101, for IOS and Google devices, that allows users to build a rocket to send a spacecraft into orbit

Have fun rocket building!

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