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The competition heats up: ULA’s Atlas 5 rocket today successfully launched a U.S. Navy military communications satellite into orbit.
ULA’s big selling point for its very high prices is its very high reliability. This was its 99th consecutive launch success for the company, going back to 2006. It was also the 127th in a row for the Atlas 5.
The problem is that a majority of these launches were government payloads, which up until now has been willing to pay top dollar. For ULA to really compete successfully, it needs private customers, and they appear unwilling to pay that top dollar, going instead to SpaceX. It is for this reason the company is pushing hard to develop a more efficient and less costly rocket.