Feb 21 2015

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ULA announces new rocket, infrastructure re-org

All in an attempt to become more competitive. The Next-Generation Launch System (NGLS) will use the BE-4 engine (550,000 pounds of thrust) being developed jointly with Blue Origin, and will replace the Delta IV Heavy. The first BE-4 test firings will be in 2017.

They’re also working with Aerojet Rocketdyne to develop the AR-1 as a backup to the BE-4 (I’d say “Hmmmm…why do you need a back-up to the BE-4”, but I’ve made no secret of my skepticism of Blue Origin. ).

Once the NGLS is fielded, ULA will downsize from five launch pads to two, one on each coast.

Per CEO Tony Bruno:

“We intend to go aggressively now after NASA commercial activities – cargo and crew – as well as pursuing [the] commercial market place which is largely comsats in the GEO orbit,” Bruno says. “Some of these customers don’t order so far in advance that it would be earlier than the long-lead part requirement, so that forces us to act like a commercial company like we are and anticipate the need and place those long-lead orders having confidence that we will sell them later.”

They have a LONG way to go to get there. As I said in the LinkedIn thread that led me to the original article:

“transforming from a bloated monopoly into a lean-and-mean competitor is going to take a lot of internal blood letting before all is said and done. I wouldn’t get too comfortable if I were a ULA employee…just sayin’.”

Permanent link to this article: http://www.newspaceraces.com/2015/02/21/ula-announces-new-rocket-infrastructure-re-org/

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