A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket set to launch in Florida this afternoon.
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket set to launch in Florida this afternoon.
Photo by Pat Corkery, United Launch Alliance

Centennial's United Launch Alliance taking off with smaller crew

United Launch Alliance, based in Centennial, is earning some nice ink today in relation to its Atlas V rocket, which is scheduled to boost the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) into space from a Florida launchpad at between 3:12 p.m. and 3:32 p.m. our time this afternoon. The mission is billed as the first step toward a return to the moon. But the excitement surrounding today's blastoff isn't accompanied by a boom at the Colorado company.

Budget cuts have taken a tremendous toll on all businesses affiliated with NASA, including ULA, which announced a series of 2009 layoffs last fall: 350 job cuts in February, with further trims possible (make that likely) by year's end. No doubt today's event will mark a welcome distraction from such problems. These days, space seems considerably less troubled than it is down here on Earth.

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