The chief executive of United Launch Alliance said Nov. 9 that he doesn’t feel any urgency to select a main engine for his company’s next-generation Vulcan rocket, despite an impending deadline for an Air Force launch competition.
The new chief executive of Blue Origin told the National Space Council his company is in discussions about certifying its New Glenn rocket for government missions, a shift in strategy that could put the company in competition with a customer.
Research and development (R&D) costs for the AR1 rocket from the program’s inception through June 30 have reached about $228 million, according to recent Security Exchange Commission (SEC) filings by Aerojet Rocketdyne, the engine's manufacturer.
Air Force leaders didn't definitively say if they'll cut off funding, but said they're more interested in launch services than engines.
Lockheed Martin has ended its effort to return a small-to-medium-lift launch vehicle to market, and plans to keep the Atlas 5 rocket in flight concurrently with United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan rocket for the first five years of operations.
In a letter, the representatives said the service should not provide funding for ULA's development of Vulcan unless it has "full access, oversight of, and approval rights over decision-making."
United Launch Alliance and the U.S. Air Force signed an agreement Sept. 27 that will guide the military's certification of the Vulcan rocket ULA is developing as the successor to its Atlas 5 and Delta 4 launchers.
United Launch Alliance says reuse of its future Vulcan rocket’s first-stage engines — featuring an inflatable hypersonic decelerator to protect the engines on atmospheric reentry, then a parafoil to glide them into position for a mid-air pickup by helicopter — is far more cost-effective than SpaceX’s planned recovery and reuse of the Falcon rocket’s entire first stage.
Two senior Boeing executives, speaking at conferences on separate continents Sept. 16, said the company is not seriously considering Aerojet Rocketdyne’s $2 billion offer for United Launch Alliance.
Development of Aerojet Rocketdyne’s new engine could be delayed without sufficient government funding, company executives said here Sept. 15.
Vulcan Aerospace expects to make a decision this fall on the rocket, or rockets, it plans to use with its Stratolaunch air-launch system as it reorients itself toward a promising-looking launch market for small satellites.
Swiss rocket-component builder Ruag is opening a production line at customer United Launch Alliance’s Alabama facility to replace capacity in Switzerland used to build parts for ULA’s Atlas 5 rocket and to prepare for ULA’s new Vulcan vehicle.