The Rockets’ Red Ink: from EELV to a Competitive Space Launch Future
June 4/15: The Air Force has released a RFP for its next generation of space launch engines, as it tries to move away from reliance on the Atlas-V’s Russian-produced RD-180 engines. Reports from March expected the RFP to have been released sooner, with industry being given tight deadlines in order to meet Congressional timelines. The Air Force aims to allocate $160 million, which will be distributed between four companies to produce prototypes for evaluation, with the Pentagon recently arguing for the continued use of the RD-180 as an interim measure before new engines can be introduced.
The Air Force is also reportedly investigating a possible leaking of information prior to the release of a RFP as part of the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program, with this a potential violation of the Procurement Integrity Act. The first competition in over a decade within the EELV program is to launch next-generation GPS-III satellites, with the RFP being released on 14 May.
The EELV program was designed to reduce the cost of government space launches through greater contractor competition, and modifiable rocket families whose system requirements emphasized simplicity, commonality, standardization, new applications of existing technology, streamlined manufacturing capabilities, and more efficient launch-site processing. Result: the Delta IV (Boeing) and Atlas V (Lockheed Martin) heavy rockets.
Paradoxically, that very program may have forced the October 2006 merger of Boeing & Lockheed Martin’s rocket divisions. Crosslink Magazine’s Winter 2004 article “EELV: The Next Stage of Space Launch” offers an excellent briefing that covers EELV’s program innovations and results, while a detailed National Taxpayer’s Union letter to Congress takes a much less positive view. This DID Spotlight article looks at the Delta IV and Atlas V rockets, emerging challengers like SpaceX and the new competition framework, and the US government contracts placed since the merger that formed the United Launch Alliance.Displaying 319 of 15,096 words (about 38 pages)
The EELV System
Military Satellite Payloads
EELV Budgets & Structure
Competition Again? The New “Open” Launch Framework
Going Forward: Block Buys in a Broader EELV Program
Contracts & Key Events
FY 2014 – 2015
FY 2008 – 2009
FY 2006 – 2007
Firms & Platforms
Official Reports & Legal
News & Views
Fill in the secure form below to activate your subscription right away (or pick another plan)