United Launch Alliance under pressure from Elon Musk’s SpaceX upstart and Congress
It was, as usual, a spectacular display of fire and force, a rocket blast lighting up the still dark sky shortly before dawn. The launch from Cape Canaveral Friday was historic, too— the 100th for the United Launch Alliance, a milestone that the company cheered as a symbol of its long heritage in space.
But it came at a perilous time for ULA, the joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing, which for years has had a monopoly on launching Pentagon payloads to space.
ULA is facing a challenge from SpaceX, the hard-charging upstart founded by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, which just won certification by the Air Force that would allow it to compete against ULA for the next Pentagon launch contract.
And ULA faces an even bigger problem: the Russian-made rocket engine it relies on has been entangled in a messy political fight that could threaten its ability to compete at all.
Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.washingtonpost.com