US FTC Clears Boeing-Lockheed Space Launch Merger
Back in May 2005, DID discussed Boeing & Lockheed’s plans to merge their space launch units into a single joint venture company. That effort has been on hold for quite some time now, but the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has just granted anti-trust clearance to proceed toward closure of the United Launch Alliance (ULA), subject to compliance with a consent order that both parties have already approved. See full FTC release, including consent order details.
The FTC action is the final step in the government’s regulatory process. Boeing “expects that the remaining requirements will be successfully resolved to enable the transaction to be completed and ULA operations to begin.” If so, future launches of Boeing’s Delta and Lockheed’s Atlas rockets would all fall under ULA’s umbrella. The companies said they expect the joint venture to generate $1.5 – $2.0 billion in revenue per year, while saving the government $100 – $150 million a year. Some observers are skeptical concerning the latter claim, though it should be noted that the firms have a similar joint venture to manage the day-to-day operations of NASA’s Space Shuttle program.