CORRECTED-UPDATE 2-ULA needs relief on Russian engines before GPS launch bid -CEO

jueves 8 de octubre de 2015 17:32 GYT

(Corrects number of engines affected by ban to 9 instead of 24, paragraph 12)

By Irene Klotz and Andrea Shalal

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla./WASHINGTON Oct 2 (Reuters) - United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing, on Friday said it cannot bid in a U.S. Air Force competition to launch a GPS satellite unless it gets some relief from a ban on use of Russian rocket engines.

ULA Chief Executive Officer Tory Bruno told reporters in Cape Canaveral, Florida, that the company was seeking a partial waiver on trade sanctions enacted last year that ban U.S. military use of the Russian RD-180 engine that powers ULA's primary workhorse Atlas 5 rocket.

The issue is now in the hands of Defense Secretary Ash Carter, Bruno said. Without the waiver, he said, ULA could not compete for that launch or any other new national security launches until a new American-built engine is ready in 2019.

"That's not a viable business model," he told reporters.

Bruno said the company needed a decision to be able to submit a bid for the GPS launch competition, the first time in nearly a decade that launches of large U.S. military and satellites will be opened to competition.

The Air Force earlier this year approved privately held Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, to compete for such launches against ULA, which has been the monopoly provider for most Air Force satellite launches since its creation in 2006.

The Air Force issued final rules for the GPS III launch competition on Wednesday, and bids are due Nov. 16.   Continuación...