Blue Origin's New Glenn rocket wins Air Force contract

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The $2 Billion contract by the Air Force, will help the 3 companies in their rocket development efforts.

The public-private partnerships will ensure "the USA maintains assured access to space, with at least two domestic launch service providers and without reliance on non-allied rocket propulsion systems". "I'm excited to announce these creative partnerships that directly support the Air Force's strategy to drive innovation and leverage commercial industry".

Northrop Grumman Corp., which acquired Orbital ATK Inc. this year, won a $791.6 million contract for development of its Omega rocket.

The three contracts are part of a Department of Defense initiative to assure constant military access to space and curb reliance on foreign-made rocket engines, like ULA's flagship Atlas V rocket that uses Russian-made RD-180 boosters.

Northrop Grumman is a leading global security company providing innovative systems, products and solutions in autonomous systems, cyber, C4ISR, space, strike, and logistics and modernization to customers worldwide. Blue Origin is developing a launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Crewed spacecraft could also be launched, just like the predecessor Ares I and Liberty rockets, which were created to launch the Orion space capsule.

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Blue Origin got $500 million for New Glenn, which it's building at a massive new factory on the Space Coast.

"The LSA partnership enables rapid buildout of NSS-unique New Glenn infrastructure such as vertical payload integration capability and a launch site at Vandenberg Air Force Base as well as completion of NSS certification activities". Design work on the vehicle began in 2012.

The rocket configuration consists of first and second solid rocket stages and strap-on solid boosters manufactured by Northrop Grumman, and a cryogenic liquid upper stage powered by Aerojet Rocketdyne's RL10C engine. Like the New Shepard suborbital launch vehicle that preceded it, the New Glenn's first stage is created to be reusable.

Since 2003, the EELV program has launched 72 national security missions using the Atlas V and Delta IV launch vehicles.