USAF Awards $2.3 Billion to Develop New Launch Vehicles

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

Blue Origin New Glenn 2.   Source: Blue Origin

The U.S. Air Force has awarded three companies a combined $2.3 billion in contracts to help fund the development of new launch vehicles under the Air Force’s Launch Service Agreement (LSA) program. Under contracts announced on October 10, United Launch Alliance was awarded $967 million to develop the Vulcan Centaur launch system, Northrop Grumman was awarded $791.6 million to develop the OmegA launch system, and Blue Origin was awarded $500 million to develop the New Glenn launch system. Continue reading

ULA Selects Blue Origin’s BE-4 Rocket Motor for Next Generation Launch Vehicle

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

vulcan, be-4, ar1, eelv

Artist’s Rendition of Vulcan Lifting Off

ULA has selected Blue Origin’s BE-4 engine for the Vulcan Centaur’s booster stage. The selection follows the completion of a competitive procurement contest. The liquefied natural gas (LNG) fueled booster will be powered by a pair of BE-4 engines, each producing 550,000 pounds of sea level thrust. ULA held a multiyear competition that pitted startup Blue Origin against industry incumbent Aerojet Rocketdyne, which proposed its AR1 engine. Once operational, the Vulcan, powered by the BE-4, will end reliance on the Russian-built RD-180 that powers the Atlas V currently used by ULA. Continue reading

USAF Awards Rocket Engine Development Contracts

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

Atlas V liftoff (Credit: ULA)

Atlas V liftoff (Credit: ULA)

The U.S. Air Force has awarded two new contracts, worth a combined $161.9 million, as part of its effort to develop a replacement for the RD-180 rocket engine. Aerojet Rocketdyne was awarded $115.3 million to continue development of its oxygen/kerosene-fueled AR-1 booster engine, while United Launch Alliance (ULA) was awarded $46.6 million to continue work on the Blue Origin’s liquefied natural gas-fueled BE-4. ULA will also use funding to work on the Advanced Cryogenic Evolved Stage (ACES).[i] Continue reading

ULA Introduces Future Vulcan Launch Vehicle

by Bill Ostrove, Forecast International.

United Launch Alliance's New Vulcan

United Launch Alliance’s New Vulcan (Source: ULA)

U.S. company United Launch Alliance (ULA) has unveiled its next-generation launch vehicle, dubbed Vulcan. In a much anticipated April 13 press conference, CEO Tory Bruno provided details about the new launch vehicle (formerly known as the Next Generation Launch System, or NGLS), including that it will feature a reusable main engine and a redesigned second stage that will extend on-orbit operating times from hours to weeks.

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