Sunday, 16 December, 2018


Blue Origin wins US Air Force contract for heavy orbital rocket

Article intro image Enlarge The Air Force evidently likes what it sees in Blue Origin's New Glenn
Kristine Garrett | 13 October, 2018, 07:42

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.

Blue Origin is now developing the rocket reusable New Glenn, for the years 2020, and for which it has opened a plant last year.

"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", said Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson. "The funding provided through this agreement will be used to tailor our launch vehicle and associated facilities for national security space needs". "Leveraging domestic commercial space launch systems is good for the Air Force, and a revitalized commercial launch industry is good for the taxpayer". The service's goal is to move away from use of Russian-made RD-180 engines.

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.

The awards go to Amazon.com billionaire Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin; United Launch Services, part of the United Launch Alliance (ULA) joint venture between Boeing Co BA.N and Lockheed Martin Corp LMT.N ; and Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems NOC.N .

The service will award other commercial launch services contracts to providers "who demonstrate the capability to design, produce, qualify, and deliver launch systems and provide the mission assurance support required to deliver National Security Space satellites to orbit", the release said. Bezos tweeted a thank-you message Wednesday to the Air Force for its "confidence in the Blue Origin team".

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. The company also recently announced that it would sell its BE-4 engine to ULA, another significant revenue stream.

"The LSA partnership enables rapid buildout of NSS-unique New Glenn infrastructure such as vertical payload integration capability and a launch site at Vandenberg Air Force Base as well as completion of NSS certification activities".

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