Tory Bruno is an aerospace engineer, who was born in California and has led ULA (a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin) since 2014.
Today I have the honor and pleasure of being able to interview him.
Tory, when you were a child, at what point did you start to like space?
At 9 years old, I launched 80-year-old sticks of dynamite I found in my grandparents’ barn. No one was hurt, but it ignited my passion.
When did you decide to study aerospace engineering?
I decided that I was interested in Engineering when I was in High School. It was great growing up on a ranch, but I knew there wouldn’t be much work for a rocket scientist. I could not afford university right away, so I worked part time on and off the ranch while traveling 75 miles to the nearest community college until I had saved enough money to enroll at Cal Poly.
How were your first years at Lockheed?
My first years at Lockheed were awesome. I just wanted to be a rocket scientist and that’s what I got to do. I became an expert in control systems and then in propulsion. However, after resisting for a few years, I eventually figured out that I could make a bigger difference in leadership and finally entered management.
When you were offered to lead ULA, what did you think?
I was very happy where I was and felt that I was doing important work, so this came as a surprise. However, I knew that ULA was important to the Country and was heading into a new environment and would be in trouble, if it did not adapt. I knew that I could help, so I thought I should. And what’s cooler than flying these amazing rockets…
At what point do you start planning the Vulcan rocket?
I started Vulcan the day I arrived to drive down cost, make production faster and reduce infrastructure needed to support.
Can you explain how the decision was made to choose the BE-4 engine over the Aerojet AR-1?
The BE-4 engine development was already well underway when we selected it, putting it a few years ahead of the alternative.
When do you expect to receive the BE-4 engines for the Vulcan?
Can you explain more about the new Vulcan Heavy?
Like everything, we are always studying future needs of our customers. Any future vehicle designs or configurations will be decided based on the market needs.
When do you expect to have it ready?
Can you tell us a little bit about the Centaur Mk 3?
Centaur III is the highest performance, longest duration upper stage flying, uniquely able to perform the most complex missions. Centaur V takes this to a whole new level. With more than twice the energy and even longer endurance, it will be a game changer. The mk3 version will have extreme endurance, essentially become reusable in space, end enabling missions that are impossible today.
And a little bit about the SMART project to recover the engines?
Although the Vulcan Centaur is ULA's present, and as we saw last week, they are working on major upgrades to it, is SMART the only reusable program at ULA, or are they working on something else, perhaps an entirely new rocket more reusable than the single-engine section?
We are always looking to the future, but obviously nothing that I can share publicly.
Can you tell us about ULA's Cislunar vision for a sustainable space economy?
Check out these infographics
Do you think that in the future in this Cislunar vision you can collaborate with Blue Origin?
It will take lots of people to make this vision into a reality
What do you think of all these new launcher companies being developed around the world?
What do you think of all these New Space companies that are going public?
It’s great to see new people involved in space.
Tory, do you invest in any space companies right now?
No. Not something that I do
Do you think ULA can one day make an IPO?
ULA is a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and The Boeing Company.
Tory, what do you like more space or horses?
And finally, what do you think we will see in the next 30 years in space?
A truly permanent human presence beyond our planet