Rocket launch

Pending civil litigation between Boeing and Lockheed Martin will be scrapped if a rocket launch joint venture between the two companies lifts off.

Boeing and Lockheed Martin have entered into an agreement to create a joint venture that will combine the production, engineering, test and launch operations associated with US government launches of Boeing Delta and Lockheed Martin Atlas rockets.

According to a statement, the joint venture, named United Launch Alliance, will reduce the cost of meeting the critical national security and NASA expendable launch vehicle needs of the United States.

“Both of our companies have developed versions of the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) in collaboration with the Air Force and have flown them successfully,” said Boeing President, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer James A. Bell. “By joining together we are convinced that we can provide the customer with assured access to space at the lowest possible cost while ensuring enhanced reliability by eliminating duplicate infrastructure and bringing experts from both companies to focus on mission assurance.”

United Launch Alliance will be structured as a 50-50 joint venture, combining services currently provided separately by Boeing Integrated Defense Systems’ Expendable Launch Systems division and by Lockheed Martin’s Space Systems Company, for launches of each company’s respective rockets. Based upon initial estimates, annual savings to the government resulting from the combination are expected to be approximately $100 to $150 million.

The agreement, which is subject to US and international approvals, stipulates that the companies will immediately request an order from the US District Court suspending all activity in the pending civil litigation related to a previous competition for launches under the Air Force EELV program. Simultaneous with the closing of the transaction, the parties will dismiss all claims against each other.

“The mission of this joint venture is to reliably meet critical launch needs, so it is imperative that the two teams come together as one with all lingering issues resolved,” said Lockheed President and CEO, Robert J. Stevens. “When agreement was reached to form this alliance, both parties agreed that they were ready to move forward with a clean slate and an undistracted focus on mission success.”

Under the terms of the joint venture, Boeing’s Delta and Lockheed’s Atlas rockets will continue to be available as alternatives on individual launch missions. This will ensure that government customers are able to make decisions that meet the goal of assured access to space with two families of launch vehicles. Upon vehicle selection, the United Launch Alliance team will carry out the mission, including vehicle integration and payload processing.

Lockheed Martin’s International Launch Services (including Proton) and Boeing Launch Services (including Sea Launch) are not included in the joint venture. These entities will continue to sell launch services to non-US government customers. Additionally, work the companies are performing independently in support of NASA-sponsored Space Shuttle-Derived Launch Vehicle concepts for future space exploration initiatives will be excluded from this joint venture.

United Launch Alliance is expected to have about 3,800 total employees at sites in Colorado, Alabama, Florida, California and Texas. It is anticipated that consolidation of the two organisations will eventually result in the elimination of an undetermined number of positions.