Three companies to develop rockets for national security launches

Ignacio Smith
October 13, 2018

Blue Origin was one of three companies to win an Air Force contract award under the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program, which intends to ensure there are domestic providers to launch national security payloads.

The launch service agreements "will facilitate the development of three domestic launch system prototypes and enable the future competitive selection", the Air Force said in a statement. Unlike the Atlas V rocket that the company now uses, the new rocket will uses engines made in the United States. "The funding provided through this agreement will be used to tailor our launch vehicle and associated facilities for national security space needs". The Atlas uses RD-180 engines made in Russian Federation.

The United States Air Force stated that it's investing more into space launches to maintain the country's existing advantage in space development.

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Northrop's innovation systems business received a potential $791.6M OTA to develop the OmegA launch system and ULA secured a potential $967M contract to work on the Vulcan Centaur platform, the Defense Department said Wednesday.

The contracts went to the United Launch Alliance (ULA), the joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing, Northrop Grumman and Blue Origin. "We're making the most of the authorities Congress gave us, and we will no longer be reliant on the Russian-built RD-180 rocket engine". New Glenn is expected to reach initial launch capability in 2020.

The U.S. Air Force on Wednesday said that it had awarded a total $2.3 billion (£1.7 billion) in contracts to develop rocket launch systems for national security missions.

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In a tweet, Bezos thanked the Air Force "for your confidence in the @BlueOrigin team and our #NewGlenn rocket".

The company also offers a heavy lift three-core Falcon Heavy and is developing a huge new rocket known as the BFR to eventually carry passengers to the moon and Mars. ULA announced in September that its Vulcan rocket will be powered by Blue's BE-4 liquid rocket engines.

Blue Origin is profiting from the retirement of the United Launch Alliance's Delta IV, which first experienced flight in 2002.

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