Interviewing Tory Bruno, leading the company that has launched every NASA mission to Mars


You can read an article version of the interview here:

Left: The Atlas V rocket of United Launch Alliance (ULA) taking off with NASA’s Curiosity rover inside the fairing. Right: Tory Bruno, CEO and President of ULA. Image credits: ULA

Glued to the Apollo landings, an eight year Tory Bruno became fascinated with rocketry. After graduating as a mechanical engineer, he worked at Lockheed Martin for several years on increasingly complex projects, eventually making the transition from engineer to executive. Today he is CEO and President of United Launch Alliance (ULA)––the company whose rockets have launched every NASA mission to Mars.

Tory is one of my favorite space people and a big inspiration so I was thrilled to get to interview him! The interview was conducted for Supercluster on July 23 just before ULA successfully launched NASA’s Mars 2020 mission. We talk about ULA’s unique capabilities and future plans to enable solar system exploration.

Questions asked:

  • 00:20 – How has ULA adapted to the ever-increasing scope and demands of NASA’s Mars missions?

  • 07:55 – Say the rocket explodes. How do you ensure safety on Earth from the nuclear source inside the Mars 2020 rover?

  • 13:43 – What capabilities and assurances does ULA provide that NASA trusts you with its billion-dollar flagship robotic missions instead of choosing other launch providers?

  • 15:21 – What makes ULA’s rockets the most precise in the world?

  • 18:24 – How did the Atlas V manage the precision injection towards Mars for the two CubeSats they were flying?

  • 21:17 – Does the upper stage in your rockets, the Centaur III, offer other benefits for deep space missions than precision orbital injections?

  • 23:31 – How does ULA plan to respond to growing competition from launch providers like SpaceX for launching missions to explore the solar system?

  • 25:24 – ULA’s involvement in NASA’s Artemis plans to explore the Moon and land humans on it

The interview was conducted for and originally published at Supercluster, a website dedicated to telling humanity's greatest outer space stories.

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