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United Launch Alliance, Colo. Atlas V Rocket Manufacturer, Partners With NASA

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This image provided by NASA shows the Solar Dynamics Observatory, designed to make important discoveries about the sun and space weather launches Thursday Feb. 11, 2010 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida atop an unmanned Atlas V rocket. (AP Photo/NASA) | AP File Photo

The space shuttle may be officially retired as a means for humans to travel to space, but NASA is already looking into the next generation of space flight and they may be embracing the rocket once again.

NASA has announced a partnership with Centennial, Colo.-based United Launch Alliance (ULA) and will evaluate their Atlas V rocket for human flight potential, 9News reports.

According to 7News, the agreement is part of an unfunded Space Act Agreement where the two organizations share technical information, but there is no exchange of funds.

The Atlas V rocket has a long history that stretches all the way back to some of the earliest American space flight missions, 9News reports, and it has been a very successful piece of technology. George Sowers of ULA said to 7News that over the years the Atlas program has had 97 consecutive successful launches. And since the Atlas V first launched in 2002, it has flown 26 missions without a single failure, according to CBSDenver.

“That’s the best [record] in the world,” Sowers said to 7News.

The Denver Post reports that depending on study results expected by year’s end, project funding and contracts, the ULA partnership could produce hundreds, or perhaps even thousands, of space industry jobs in Colorado.

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