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The competition heats up: ATK’s push to build its Liberty launch system.
Liberty was one of the suitors [for NASA’s commercial crew] funding, before losing out to the four aforementioned options during the selection process. However, ATK decided to press on with the development of the system under an unfunded Space Act Agreement (SAA), with a clear intent of convincing NASA they deserve to be awarded funding for the path towards crewed launches.
Indeed, ATK have stated that they will continue with the development of Liberty regardless of NASA funding, as much as Agency support would provide an accelerated schedule towards bringing the vehicle into operation by 2015. [emphasis mine]
If you read the article, you will see that there are many reasons why I would rather NASA did not pick ATK. The system depends too much on the shuttle’s legacy at the Kennedy Space Center (the VAB, crawler, etc), which means it will probably require a large labor force to launch and thus be expensive. However, if ATK can make Liberty profitable without NASA, I am all for them.