HARLINGEN, TEXAS – The city of Harlingen is doing its bit to help Amazon launch hundreds of satellites into space, in order to expand broadband access across the globe.

Harlingen is home to a United Launch Alliance factory. It manufactures parts for ULA’s Atlas V rocket. According to ULA, Amazon has secured Atlas V for nine launches supporting deployment of Project Kuiper initiative. 

Project Kuiper is an ambitious initiative that seeks to increase global broadband access through a constellation of 3,236 advanced satellites in low earth orbit.  

“ULA manufactures components of the Atlas V here in Harlingen,” said Harlingen Economic Development Corporation President Raudel Garza, proudly.

“The Harlingen crew works on payload fairings, connectors and adapters for the Atlas V.”

Garza said Harlingen and indeed the whole Rio Grande Valley can be proud of the cutting edge equipment being produced by ULA locally.

“With over 140 missions launched with 100 percent reliability, ULA is a great partner to the U.S. government, military, and private sector as well,” Garza said. 

“Harlingen is proud to have this manufacturer here at Valley International Airport and we continue to support their operations here.”

According to a ULA news release, Amazon has committed more than $10 billion to deliver on its mission for Project Kuiper, which aims to make high-speed, low-latency broadband more affordable and accessible for unserved and underserved communities around the world. 

“The project will serve individual households, as well as schools, hospitals, businesses, government agencies, and other organizations operating in places without reliable broadband,” the news release states.

Tory Bruno, ULA’s president and CEO, provided more information about Amazon’s new broadband connectivity project.

“Project Kuiper will help bridge the digital divide across the United States and around the world, and we could not be more pleased to be working with Amazon to support the initiative,” Bruno said.

“ULA is focused on serving our customer’s missions and providing reliable, innovative launch solutions. We look forward to launching these important missions.”

The Atlas V missions will launch from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

“We’re determined to make affordable broadband a reality for customers and communities around the world,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO. “ULA is a fantastic partner that’s successfully launched dozens of missions for commercial and government customers, and we’re grateful for their support of Kuiper.”

Rajeev Badyal, is vice president of technology for Amazon’s Project Kuiper.

“We’ve designed our satellites and dispenser system to accommodate multiple launch vehicles – this gives us the flexibility to use many different rockets and providers to launch our satellite system,” Badyal said.

“Atlas V is a capable, reliable rocket, and we’re proud to be working with ULA to support these important first launches.”

ULA says Atlas V has long been the nation’s “reliable workhorse” for space launch and has been a key enabler to many critical missions for national security space, NASA and commercial customers including, GPS, SBIRS and MUOS constellations, as well as Mars Curiosity, InSight and Mars 2020 missions.

“ULA takes great pride in serving our customers as their best value launch partner – from providing high confidence schedule certainty to flexible and responsive manifesting to transparent engineering collaboration on customer-specific mission design needs – we truly become one integrated team with our customers, fully dedicated to their success,” said Chris Ellerhorst, ULA director of Strategy, Business Development and Sales. “We are thrilled that Amazon has put their trust in us.”

Bruno, ULA’s president and CEO, said that with more than a century of combined heritage, ULA is the nation’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. 

He said ULA has successfully delivered more than 140 missions to orbit that aid meteorologists in tracking severe weather, unlock the mysteries of our solar system, provide critical capabilities for troops in the field, deliver cutting-edge commercial services and enable GPS navigation.

The Atlas V is not just used to put satellites in space. It also propels NASA Perseverance Rovers to the planet Mars. Harlingen Mayor Chris Boswell pointed this out in his recent State of the City address.

“On February 18, 2021, the NASA Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover landed on Mars as the most sophisticated rover NASA has ever sent to the red planet. It will collect carefully selected and documented rock… search for signs of microbial life, characterize the planet’s geology and climate and pave the way for human exploration,” Boswell said.

“And it all started on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket that launched eight months ago. The ULA rocket propelled this rover on its 293 million-mile journey and parts of it were manufactured in Harlingen.”

Boswell said the Harlingen ULA team were responsible for the payload adapter, booster adapter and other key parts of the Atlas V rocket. “We are honored that Harlingen played a role in the build of the ULA launch Atlas V rocket,” he said.

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