United Launch Alliance in Decatur celebrates 20 years of building rockets

DECATUR, Ala. —United Launch Alliance General Manager Stephan Williams said they've successfully launched more than 100 satellites that have provided critical capabilities to so many. Before it was a rocket building machine, 20 years ago the property was simply an empty field.

Former Congressman Bud Cramer had the vision to bring ULA to Decatur. "I couldn't tell you how cooperative Boeing was. They told me what they were looking for and I listened to that checklist," Cramer explained.

He said it only felt right in 1997 for the facility to come to north Alabama. He said with stealth teamwork and a lot of dedication Decatur won the bid for ULA to be built. "I was able to keep that inside information going and look what happened. We won it when I think two other communities thought they were going to win it," Cramer explained.

He said to be a part of the celebration 20 years later and see what has been accomplished is amazing. "Today looking on the track record of ULA, 120 successful launches. No other company can compete with that. ULA is the nation's rocket launch provider," Cramer said.

While at the celebration WHNT asked Cramer about his thoughts on Russian hackers. Recently the Associated Press released an article about defense contractors being targeted.  In the article, it listed Boeing as one of the targets. Boeing partially owns ULA.

Cramer said ULA may be a target, but more than likely have been one for a while. "We were already on the target list probably because of missile defense," Cramer explained.

He said the company can't spend time being afraid about potential hacks.

"We can't run away from an issue. What we do here helps to protect us. That's the positive side of what we need to be looking at," Cramer said.