Blue Origin wins contract to power top secret Air Force space missions

12 October, 2018, 22:02 | Author: Kelly Sanders
  • Origin founder Jeff Bezos addresses the media about the New Shepard rocket booster and Crew Capsule mockup at the 33rd Space Symposium in Colorado Springs

Building on the capabilities of the company's current rockets, the Atlas V and Delta IV, the new ULA Vulcan will incorporate the best of both systems - with Vulcan deployment beginning with the first stage, based on the Delta IV's fuselage diameter and production process, expected to use two BE-4 engines. And United Launch Alliance - a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing - received a $967 million award for development of its Vulcan Centaur Launch System. The Atlas uses RD-180 engines made in Russian Federation.

Northrop Grumman Corp., which acquired Orbital ATK Inc. this year, won a $791.6 million contract for development of its Omega rocket. "These awards are a leap forward in space launch capabilities, ensuring continued USA dominance in space", said Dr. William Roper, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics.

Northrop will perform work in Arizona, Utah, Mississippi, Florida, Ohio and Louisiana through December 31, 2024, while Blue Origin will carry out prototype development in Washington and Alabama through July 31, 2024. What would further add to the sting for Elon Musk's company, is the fact that the DOD will be selecting two of these three companies to become official launch providers for the USA government.

Currently, ULA and SpaceX are the only launch providers for national security payloads.


"Blue Origin is honored to enter into a Launch Services Agreement partnership with the Air Force to leverage our commercial, heavy-lift New Glenn launch vehicle for national security space missions", the company said in a statement.

The Air Force said it would not discuss which companies submitted bids for the funding agreements. The Air Force competitively awarded the Launch Service Agreements as other transaction (OT) agreements in accordance with the Air Force's other transaction authority (OTA) for prototype projects.

The Air Force said the OTAs awarded through a competitive acquisition process are part of its plan to competitively select two domestic commercial service providers that can support the launch of national security payloads by fiscal 2020.

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