After taking over responsibility for marketing commercial launches of the Atlas V rocket from Lockheed Martin in January, the United Launch Alliance, has something to crow about. It emerged ahead of both Space X and Arianespace, which both already hold Viasat bookings (although Arianespace was not invited to bid this time) to sign up a launch booking for one of three Viasat-3 communications satellites. The launch will take place on an Atlas V 551 in 2020-2022.
Comment by David Todd: While Atlas V cannot compete on price, it has a strong recent reliability record – better even than the Ariane 5. It does not have the schedule difficulties experienced by SpaceX, although the previously bulging Falcon 9 launch backlog is being rapidly got through. ULA’s Atlas V commercial service offering is to “get you there in one piece, and on time”, which it will need as the GEO market rapidly diminishes and as SpaceX becomes a major competitor in the US military launch market. Times are hard for both ULA and even SpaceX, which will soon be relying on military and NASA launches and launches of its own satellites to supplement its commercial launch business. Launch providers like ULA, which lack their own constellations, will be hoping to serve other commercial constellations with their multi-satellite launches to LEO.