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Tory Bruno, the CEO of ULA, explained in an op-ed today why his company is discontinuing its use of Boeing’s Delta family of rockets and focusing exclusively on Lockheed Martin’s Atlas 5 and its eventual replacement, the Vulcan Centaur.
Delta is an amazing rocket, but it’s costly to produce. Its burnt-orange foam insulation has to be applied by hand. Its production line is bigger and more complex than Atlas’s. And its components are pricier.
Bruno’s purpose with this op-ed is to convince Congress to leave his company alone while they develop the new Vulcan rocket. Congress keeps proposing outlawing use of the Atlas 5 with its Russian engines, and Bruno does not want that, at least not until the Vulcan is flying. He is also trying to reduce his costs by discontinuing Delta, which in turn would allow him to lower prices for his Atlas 5 and compete more effectively with SpaceX.
Though I understand Congress’s concerns, I do find it sad that in modern America a private businessman has to lobby Congress for the right to run his company as he sees fit.