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Old Posted Sep 29, 2009, 6:56 PM
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tascalisa tascalisa is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Tuscaloosa
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From AL.com - Huntsville Times

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Decatur rocket plant expected to expand production this week
By Shelby G. Spires
September 29, 2009, 11:25AM

The United Launch Alliance is set to branch out this week with the first steps in expanding its Decatur rocket plant to produce a new rocket - the Atlas V.

The first Atlas V hardware from Denver, Colo. arrives this week as preparation continues in transitioning production to Decatur.

When the transition is complete, Decatur will be the production home for both Delta and Atlas rockets. Two Atlas V second-stage fuel tanks will travel from Denver to Huntsville International Airport aboard a Russian Antonov 124 cargo plane.

The aircraft is expected to touch down at 3 p.m. Wednesday at Huntsville International.

Started in December 2006, the United Launch Alliance combines the efforts of Boeing and Lockheed Martin to produce the Delta and Atlas rockets, also known as Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles.

Construction on the $450 million Decatur plant was begun by Boeing in 1997, and it started production in 2000. The plant is 1.5 million square feet large.

The EELV program was started by the U.S. Air Force in 1996 as a way to spur competition for the rocket business. The Air Force awarded $500 million to each company as seed money, while Boeing and Lockheed put up $500 million each to develop the rockets.
However, the satellite market collapsed in 2001 due mostly to the sagging technology sector and the economic downturn that came shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
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