Space rocket launch vehicle leaving Decatur

Watch it leave the ULA facility and get loaded onto a Mariner to be delivered to Florida.

Posted: May 23, 2019 7:50 AM
Updated: May 23, 2019 8:36 PM

North Alabama is making history again in the space industry.

United Launch Alliance in Decatur spent about two years building the Atlas V rocket to send Americans to the International Space Station.

WAAY 31 spoke with some of the folks who had a hand in making the mission possible.

“Here in Decatur and in Huntsville, we’ve just been known as the Rocket City, so bringing all of that heritage back here, it’s just really exciting," Shannon Coggin said.

Coggin is a production engineer at United Launch Alliance. She worked hand-in-hand with design engineers and technicians to make sure the Atlas V rocket was built perfectly. And because, she says, it was, the next stop for the rocket is Cape Canaveral.

“Really, super excited to hit this milestone for ULA and, really, for the entire nation," Coggin said.

The production of the historic rocket started in the Decatur facility about two years ago, and will now be a part of a crucial mission, launching Boeing’s Starliner space capsule into space.

“Returning astronauts to the International Space Station, from U.S. soil, on an Atlas rocket, it’s really just overwhelming with pride," Coggin said.

It’s something the space industry told WAAY 31 hasn’t happened since 2011. And they've come a long way in those eight years.

“We put a lot of capability into these designs that were not there before," Rick Navarro, with Boeing, said.

“We at ULA are focused on building and launching vehicles that are safe, reliable, and deliver these critical missions precisely as designed, with 100% mission success," Gary Wentz, with ULA, added.

The crew flight test is slated to happen in December, and Coggin told WAAY 31 this is just a stepping stone to even greater things ahead for space exploration.

“We’re really inspiring the next generation of space enthusiasts and rocket scientists.”

The cargo ship that’s carrying the Atlas V will leave ULA’s dock on Friday. Its journey to Cape Canaveral will last eight to ten days, depending on weather.

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