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Senate committee debates EELV competition
Posted: Thu, Mar 6, 2014, 6:56 AM ET (1156 GMT)
Delta 4 launch of GPS2F-3 (ULA) A subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee heard dueling testimony Wednesday from the head of the company that currently provides launch services for major military satellites and another company that wants to enter that market. At the hearing of the appropriations committee's defense subcommittee, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk argued that by allowing SpaceX to compete for launches under the Air Force's Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program, it could lower the military's costs to launch major defense satellites. However, Michael Gass, CEO of United Launch Alliance (ULA), the Boing-Lockheed Martin joint venture that builds the Atlas and Delta vehicles currently used by the EELV program, warned that competition would not guarantee lower costs, citing the previous unsustainable competition between Boeing and Lockheed prior to the formation of ULA. The Air Force is currently in the process of certifying SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket for EELV-class missions, but changes in the budget may reduce the number of missions SpaceX is eligible to compete for over the next several years.
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