United Launch Alliance (ULA) is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Space Systems and Boeing Defense, Space & Security. ULA was formed in December 2006 by combining the teams at these companies which provide spacecraft launch services to the government of the United States. ULA launches from both coasts of the US. They launch their Atlas V vehicle from LC-41 in Cape Canaveral and LC-3E at Vandeberg. Their Delta IV launches from LC-37 at Cape Canaveral and LC-6 at Vandenberg.
This is the sixth flight of Orbital ATK's unmanned resupply spacecraft Cygnus and its fifth flight to the International Space Station under the Commercial Resupply Services contract with NASA. Orbital ATK named the vehicle after astronaut Rick Husband who was the commander of STS-107.
Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) are a series of flights awarded by NASA for the delivery of cargo and supplies to the International Space Station.The first CRS contracts were signed in 2008 and awarded $1.6 billion to SpaceX for twelve cargo Dragon and $1.9 billion to Orbital Sciences for eight Cygnus flights, covering deliveries to 2016. The Falcon 9 and Antares rockets were also developed under the CRS program to deliver cargo spacecraft to the ISS.
The International Space Station programme is tied together by a complex set of legal, political and financial agreements between the sixteen nations involved in the project, governing ownership of the various components, rights to crewing and utilization, and responsibilities for crew rotation and resupply of the International Space Station. It was conceived in 1984 by President Ronald Reagan, during the Space Station Freedom project as it was originally called.