ULA Apparently Caves, Orbital Drops Lawsuit over Russian Engines


What exquisite timing.  In a week where the Russian built RD-180 main engine, used to power the United Launch Alliance Atlas V, has come under heavy scrutiny, word comes out that Orbital Sciences has dropped its lawsuit against ULA over access to the engine.

From a Space News article on the issue:

“The parties will now undertake to negotiate a business resolution for Orbital’s access to the RD-180 rocket engine, subject to all necessary approvals from the U.S. and Russian governments,” Orbital said in the filing. “If a mutually agreeable resolution is not reached, Orbital will have the option to refile its lawsuit.”

It remains to be seen what the outcome will be, but it seems clear that after Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel last week promised a review of ULA’s use of the RD-180 for DOD launches due to the worsening relations between the U.S. and Russia,  the spectacle of two companies publicly fighting over it was just too much for either.

For ULA, agreeing to share access to the engine both deflects criticism over dependence on it,  and perhaps more importantly, slams the door on possibly embarrassing documents coming to light as the case came to trial.  For OSC, a presumption of access to the engines at an understood pricing level allows is desperately needed in order to allow it to bid on the next round of station supply contracts. Without the RD-180, or an alternative, OSC will be out of options as it exhausts the limited supply of older NK-33 Russian engines it is currently using to power the Antares booster.


About the Author:

Post a Comment