ULA gets launch contract for Lucy asteroid mission


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Capitalism in space: NASA has awarded ULA a $145 million contract to launch the Lucy asteroid mission on its Atlas 5 rocket.

The price is high for such a launch in today’s market, and is even higher than the cost of some recent military launches, which routinely tack on extra requirements that cause the price to rise. I wonder why. Is it because NASA doesn’t care how much it spends? Or is there a political component here, providing a contract to a company that is having trouble winning contracts in the private sector because their price is too high?

It could be that the mission requires things from the launch that add to the cost. The press release mentions that it “includes the launch service and other mission related costs” but does not specify what they are.

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One comment

  • mike shupp

    ULA’s got an extraordinary record for reliability. I suspect folks at NASA reflected that the Lucy mission involved a an expensive unique spacecraft and maybe a fairly short launch window, and decided it might be worth paying 50 million or so extra for the peace of mind. I don’t know I’d argue with that.

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