FTC approve United Launch Alliance

by Chris Bergin

Following a long drawn out process, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have given anti-trust clearance for Lockheed Martin and Boeing’s space divisions to merge into the all-powerful United Launch Alliance (ULA).

The joining of forces for the two launch companies is understood to lead to annual savings over $150m a year from government and military satellite launches.

The deal is still subject to a Consent Order between all parties – meaning ULA is not yet a full reality. However, the move ensures a major step has been taken towards that goal, which has the full backing of the Pentagon. The FTC action is the final step in the government’s regulatory process.

The FTC noted that for compliance, the parties must take the following actions:

(1) ULA must cooperate on equivalent terms with all providers of government space vehicles;
(2) Boeing and Lockheed’s space vehicle businesses must provide equal consideration and support to all launch services providers when seeking any U.S. government delivery in orbit contract; and
(3) Boeing, Lockheed, and ULA must safeguard competitively sensitive information obtained from other space vehicle and launch services providers.

ULA would combine the production, engineering, test and launch operations associated with US government launches of Boeing Delta and Lockheed Martin Atlas rockets.

The purpose for combining the Atlas and Delta operations is to reduce the cost of meeting the national security and civil expendable launch vehicle needs of the United States.

The ULA venture was first announced on May 2, 2005. ULA would be structured as a 50-50 joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

Following the closing of ULA, Boeing and Lockheed Martin have agreed to dismiss all civil litigation against each other related to a previous competition for launches under the Air Force EELV program.

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