Sun, Dec 03, 2006
Rocket Business Breeds Strange Bedfellows...
Lockheed and Boeing are now officially working together on
rockets for the US Government. In the works since May, the pair is
forecast to generate nearly $2 billion a year in sales.
Calling it the United Launch Alliance (ULA), the pair of
unlikely partners will combine Boeing's Delta rocket team with
Lockheed's Atlas team. ULA will headquarter in Denver and maintain
launch facilities in Florida and California.
Lockheed's vice president of financial strategies Jeffrey D.
MacLauchlan told the Washington Post, "The venture will maintain
two separate hardware families; that's really at the crux of the
appeal to the government. Should there be a problem with either,
the other is available as a backup resource."
This ends a 15-month battle between the two over which would get
US business. It's also an admission on the part of both parties
they can't go it alone in the commercial launch business.
Boeing is just this year getting back in the launch game
following a 20-month suspension imposed by the USAF. Boeing
admitted some of its employees had proprietary Lockheed information
while the two fought over a USAF launch competition in the
The stolen documents also drew attention from the US attorney's
office in Los Angeles leading to indictments for former Boeing
employees. Aside from the suspension, the USAF awarded Lockheed
seven rocket launches worth around $1 billion.
Congress has pushed recently to oust one or the other of the
companies from future contracts with the USAF, but the air service
argued it needed both kinds of rockets in case one should develop a
problem precluding its use.
Critics see allowing the merger as a government handout. The
USAF has comprised a large portion of Boeing's and Lockheed's
rocket business since the telecommunications business cooled off.
The pentagon has proposed $340 million toward launches in its 2007
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