Blue Origin seals partnership with Air Force | Business Announcements

13 October, 2018, 07:43 | Author: Kristi Owen
  • La compagnie spatiale de Jeff Bezos remporte un contrat avec l'US Air Force

The Launch Service Agreements are for the development of Blue Origin's New Glenn, Northrop Grumman's Omega and ULA's Vulcan Centaur rockets.

Blue Origin will build the New Glenn launch vehicle under a potential $500M contract. 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 U.S. government.

The three contracts are part of a Department of Defence initiative to assure constant military access to space and curb reliance on foreign-made rocket engines, like ULA's flagship Atlas V rocket that uses Russian-made RD-180 boosters. The Atlas uses RD-180 engines made in Russian Federation. With major propulsion and structural elements of OmegA already complete, Northrop Grumman is on schedule to complete propulsion system ground tests in 2019 and conduct its first launch in 2021. Each company will receive an initial award of $181 million.

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said the program "is a great example of how we are fielding tomorrow's Air Force faster and smarter".

Following Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014, Congress mandated through the fiscal 2015 National Defense Authorization Act - as well as succeeding NDAAs - that the EELV program function as the transition from RD-180 engines to American-made launch solutions. SpaceX recently announced plans to launch a Japanese billionaire and a half-dozen artists on a flight around the moon. Officials said its replacement should be ready by the 2023 timeframe.


Interestingly, current launch provider SpaceX was not on the list.

The latest contracts are Other Transaction agreements, known as OTs.

The Air Force said it would not discuss which companies submitted bids for the funding agreements.

Awarded under the U.S. government's Launch Service Agreement, these contract form part of the USA government's attempts to reduce reliance on Russian rockets for launches that are of national importance from a security standpoint.

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