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.