Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar to the right or below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.
Corruption: It appears that a Department of Defense $27.4 million contract awarded to ULA on May 16 to develop new avionics for its rockets was for work already completed by the company.
The government award to ULA reinforces the notion that, traditionally in aerospace, the government pays for rocket upgrades. But it is also curious because of its timing—for work to be completed two years from now. Based upon information in an article written by two ULA engineers and published in Advances in the Astronautical Sciences Guidance, Navigation and Control, the avionics system has already been upgraded. Moreover, the February 5, 2016 launch of a GPS satellite for the Air Force marked the first launch of the common avionics system.
“The launch of GPS IIF-12 in February 2016 represents the culmination of several years of development work to update avionics hardware and flight software as well as simulation and test environment tools,” the research article states. “Common avionics addresses the challenge of parts obsolescence any program with the longevity of (this one) must face. ULA has taken advantage of this opportunity to design and produce a more affordable solution for vehicle control that will also expand the capability of our launcher fleet.”
A call into the Air Force for an explanation resulted in no response at all.