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The competition heats up: ULA has announced that they are adding a cubesat launch capability to their Atlas 5 rocket so that by 2017 they will be able to place in orbit as many as 24 cubesats per launch, as secondary payloads.
In addition, the company will offer universities to compete for six launch slots at no charge.
“ULA will offer universities the chance to compete for at least six CubeSat launch slots on two Atlas V missions, with a goal to eventually add university CubeSat slots to nearly every Atlas and Vulcan launch,” noted Tory Bruno, ULA president and CEO. “There is a growing need for universities to have access and availability to launch their CubeSats and this program will transform the way these universities get to space by making space more affordable and accessible.”
This offer is ULA’s way of trying to capture some of that growing smallsat market that companies like Rocket Labs and Virgin Galactic are trying to grab.