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Here's the next rocket that will carry US satellites into space

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You may not be familiar with United Launch Alliance, but it's about to handle a large chunk of US space launches -- and that makes the rocket you see above particularly important. That's Vulcan, ULA's newly unveiled launch system for satellites and similar payloads. The two-stage vehicle is designed to be the "most cost-efficient" rocket of its kind, helped in no small part by new recovery tech (Sensible Modular Autonomous Return Technology, or SMART) that captures the booster main engines in mid-air. Vulcan also eliminates an earlier dependence on Russian powerplants by relying on low-cost, reusable liquid natural gas engines from Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin. You probably won't be happy with this machine if you're rooting for SpaceX, but it'll be a big deal if its affordable design gets more equipment into orbit and beyond.

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