Tory Bruno came to United Launch Alliance (ULA) in 2014 after a long career managing programs for some of the most advanced and powerful weapons systems in the American arsenal. As general manager of Lockheed Martin Strategic and Missile Defense Systems, he led a team of men and women responsible for the Navy’s Trident II D5 Fleet Ballistic Missile, the Air Force’s ICBM Reentry Systems and the Terminal High Area Altitude Defense System (THAAD). He managed a joint venture responsible for producing and safely maintaining the UK’s nuclear weapons and has engineered control systems for rockets and hypersonic weapons, for which he holds numerous patents. No words describe him better than Tom Wolfe’s famous phrase, “a steely-eyed missile man.”
When he was tapped to lead ULA, the company was at a crossroads. What had been an effective monopoly on national security and NASA missions had turned competitive as new commercial competitors entered the business. The company needed to adapt to survive. This veteran of military space and missile programs might not have seemed the obvious choice of leader, but he was soon to prove doubters wrong.
He launched a major restructuring of the company to shorten launch cycles and cut launch costs in half – while maintaining its unprecedented 100% success rate on launches. Over a wrenching year or two, he restructured the company, reduced the number of launch pads the company used, and relentlessly advocated for the importance of space to the future of the nation. These difficult changes began to produce results. The company won competitive bids for many science missions from NASA, as well as multi-billion-dollar competitive bids for national security satellite launches. To maintain that momentum, the company began development of a new launch vehicle, the Vulcan Centaur rocket, which is on track for first launch in 2021. Purpose-designed for national security launches, it is based on the workhorse Atlas and Delta vehicle designs but with such efficiency that a single Vulcan Centaur will loft payloads that would have required strapping together three of the legacy rockets. Long-term partnerships with a vast supply chain are serving the dual purpose of keeping costs down while helping to stabilize the US space industrial base.
Tory Bruno’s leadership has enabled ULA to survive and thrive through the challenging transition to a competitive market and has preserved for the US government a launch provider whose first priority is serving the nation’s national security needs in space.