According to a recent announcement from officials at the United Launch Alliance (ULA), the company will launch a total of 14 rockets this year, for a wide variety of clients, from the scientific to the intelligence communities. All launches will be carried out by Atlas and Delta delivery systems.A new Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) was the first of these 14 launches, occurring on January 23, aboard an Atlas V rocket. This represented the 10th consecutive flight when the delivery system was able to lift off flawlessly, and on time.
The next launch will occur on February 20, and will see a Delta IV rocket carrying the Global Positioning System 2F-5 navigation satellite to a geosynchronous orbit around our planet. About a month later, on March 25, an Atlas V will carry the NROL-67 classified satellite into space for the US National Reconnaissance Office.
The most important flight of the year will be carried out by a Delta IV Heavy rocket, which will carry the NASA Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle farther away from Earth than any manned spacecraft has been in 30 years. This will be the first validation flight for the upcoming manned vehicle, Space reports.