Alabama factory brings rocket science to life - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Alabama factory brings rocket science to life

Atlas and Delta launch vehicles are assembled at the ULA factory in Decatur. (Source: madeinalabama.com) Atlas and Delta launch vehicles are assembled at the ULA factory in Decatur. (Source: madeinalabama.com)
DECATUR, AL (WAFF) - Workers at the United Launch Alliance Alabama factory in Decatur bring rocket science to life.

The one-of-a-kind plant is hidden on an industrial road in Morgan County. The ULA rockets made there help create the constellation of satellites overhead that shape life in the 21st century. 

Alabama-made Atlas and Delta launch vehicles have carried weather, GPS, communications, surveillance and research satellites on missions designed to strengthen national security or just improve life on Earth. Earlier this month, a Delta II rocket lifted off with the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2, NASA's first dedicated Earth remote sensing satellite studying atmospheric carbon dioxide. 

Organizations like NASA depend on these made-in-Alabama rockets to carry out their work. 

The satellites carried by ULA rockets can cost between $200 million and $1 billion.

ULA's vice president of production facilities said Decatur is an ideal location because of the access to waterways that provide the ability to deliver the rockets via the Mariner to Cape Canaveral in Florida and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. 

The Decatur factory is a landmark in Alabama's aerospace industry and fits in with the state's heritage in rockets and missiles, like the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville. 

The factor is 1.6 million square feet and employs about 1,000 workers. The plant produces around a half-dozen Delta II and IV rockets a year, along with 10 to 12 Atlas V launch vehicles, according to www.madeinalabama.com.

In total, ULA has 15 launches scheduled for this year. 

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