Apr 08 2015

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CO of AF Space Command says ELC contract must change

Hyten: No “Fair Competition” If ULA Contract Remains. For General Hyten to say this in public…well, let’s just say that this doesn’t bode well for ULA.

Hyten said the ELC contract was created because the U.S. launch industry’s industrial base was in a “fragile” state in the mid-2000s. The robust commercial launch market that had been forecast to develop did not do so. At the time, Lockheed Martin and Boeing were competitors, offering the Atlas V and Delta IV, respectively, for both commercial and government launches. Without sufficient commercial launches, the market was insufficient to support both companies against international competition.

The Air Force needed Atlas and Delta to place its satellites into orbit whenever necessary, so “we created the ELC contract as a way to make sure that even if we didn’t launch, and there were years that we launched very small numbers of satellites, there will still be a healthy industrial base,” Hyten explained.

Times have changed, however, and with the emergence of “new entrants” like SpaceX, the time has come to alter the way the government procures launches, according to Hyten.

SpaceX should get their certification for DoD launches sometime this summer. Expect the ELC contract to be either changed or terminated shortly thereafter. ULA will still get *some* work, precisely because the government wants at least two viable launch vehicles available at the same time…but if I were a ULA employee, I’d be sending my resume out.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.newspaceraces.com/2015/04/08/co-of-af-space-command-says-elc-contract-must-change/

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