WASHINGTON — U.S. government launch services provider United Launch Alliance (ULA) of Denver has informed employees it will eliminate 224 positions across the company in October, following a first round of 89 layoffs in February, according to a July 24 company press release.

ULA, a Boeing-Lockheed Martin joint venture, said the reductions are necessary to meet competitive challenges and future pricing assumptions. They are also related to the closing out of ULA’s Delta 2 rocket business, the completion of the company’s work on the NASA Ares 1-X test flight program and discontinued government funding to accelerate the Atlas 5 launch manifest, the release said.

The layoffs are significantly fewer than ULA anticipated making when it announced the plans last November. At that time the company anticipated letting go of 350 employees in early 2009 with a similar reduction possible in late 2009.