DECATUR — United Launch Alliance (ULA) cut the ribbon on a new $300 million expansion to their Decatur rocket facility on Friday. According to chief operating officer John Elbon, this expansion will create an additional 200 jobs and allow ULA to reach its goal of 25 launches per year.

Elbon said, "We are grateful for the partnerships that we've had for many years to allow this kind of growth and allow us to keep going here. We will be continuing to support our space force customer, and then we have, as we've talked about, the largest commercial contract that's ever been awarded from Amazon. We'll be launching their Kuiper Constellation on the Vulcan rockets, and these facilities are a big part of making all that happen."

Amazon's Kuiper Constellation is a project to launch 3,236 satellites into low-Earth orbit to increase broadband access. The project is similar and will compete with Starlink.

Dan Caughran, the vice president of production operations and supply chain, introduced U.S. Rep. Dale Strong (R-Monrovia), who spoke on the expansion and the importance of this project for Alabama and the United States.

Strong said, "When you start thinking about it, 1.9 million square feet, you add another right, maybe a little bit over 500,000 square feet, this is 2.4 million square feet under the roof. I welcome you to the largest rocket plant in the world!"

"I'll tell you the thing that is so impressive: it seems like just a matter of years, we were dependent on a Russian RD180 engine, and today, you look at what's happening here: we're no longer dependent on the Russians," he continued. "Americans are taking us where we need to go, and I thank ULA for all that you've done."

Strong concluded, "You think about what this means: this community, this is jobs, this is big jobs, good-paying jobs. For the local community, and it's not just for Decatur and Morgan County these jobs create for all of North Alabama." adding, "I'm honored to represent this area, the 3/4 of a million people in North Alabama that call the 5th Congressional District home our finest hours are still ahead thank you all for allowing me to be here today."

Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling mentioned how grateful he was to have a congressman like Strong in North Alabama who is truly working to help the area and stays in touch with the local communities.

Bowling said, "This is ULA’s day, and it's a great day in Decatur, AL. Thank you, ULA, for working with us on making this happen. The expansion is important to our economy and local workforce. This $300 million investment will keep our local economy growing. Adding, "The warehouses that you're going to see are examples of what being a pro-business environment can achieve. Supporting our local industries and businesses creates jobs, and it has a positive impact on our community and city."

"Again, congratulations on the launch of Vulcan; in this expansion, we build rockets in Decatur, Alabama! Beyond Gravity and ULA, you play a vital role in our national defense, and you will continue to be a leader in the space industry. I look forward to working with you in the future," he concluded.

Following the speeches, attendees were invited to tour the new facilities and see firsthand the work and investment that had been made on ULA's campus.

ULA Facility Alabama News
Photo by: Bradley Cox

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