Apr 12, 2023Liked by Space Case

Good write up. 100% agree with you that BDS is in managed decline and LMT is most likely suitor.

You left out that NOC already has a launch provider under its tent: OATK, which builds Antares and the Minotaur. The Firefly partnership is goofy and frankly they overpaid for a stake in a (yet to) launch company.

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I’m surprised this thorough report and well-researched analysis did not include Raytheon Technologies or General Dynamics. Both of the Big 6 A&D club members have equities in space architectures with Raytheon acquiring the vertical supply chain for satellites. GD is more diverse but like Raytheon takes a ‘own the domain’ approach to market share. Boeing is moving its headquarters to Virginia and building a R&D focused campus across the Potomac from the US Congress. Raytheon and GD are already headquartered there with deep relationships in both the house and senate. If the Boeing strategy is to divest heavy launch, Raytheon and GD are probably already shaping their congressional committee members to limit competition and establish additional barriers of industry to increase confidence from investors that a move into heavy launch would not only increase the stock price but allow them to ‘own the domain.’

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Apr 16, 2023·edited Apr 16, 2023

TLDR: steps to @ulalaunch independence:

1 @LockheedMartin $LMT buys out Boeing

2 Buy/license RL-10 production from @L3HarrisTech

3 BE4 capture (reduce Blue Origin dependence)

4 Vulcan Tri-core (reduce @northropgrumman )

5 ACES+Orion for Artemis

-> RULE the Moon https://twitter.com/LMSpace/status/1503436622964015104?s=20

I too said in the past that Lockheed buying it can make sense. But only if they are ALL-in. For full vertical integration and control, buying the Boeing side is just the first step. Enough to ensure the DoD that their expensive satellites can always launch, but not for flexibility to innovate the launch side to fit future satellite needs.


Step TWO is buying (or licensing) the RL-10 production from L3Harris, so they have full control over innovating their upper stage to devellop ACES.

L3Harris probably bought Aerojet Rocketdyne primarily for its solid propulsion/defense business, and will not mind selling (a part, or all) of its liquid engine business given the many new space companies in that segment.

The only other main customer is the SLS, in which Lockheed also participates in, so it should not be a regulatory hold-up.

And Lockheed already has a valuation for that segment from their own attempt to buy ARJD, so the deal could close quickly in parallel.

(As alternative ULA may still have the license for that XCOR engine license, but they would have to start over on Centaur)

Step THREE would be to start their Engine Capture technology to capture BE-4's. Having a stockpile of re-usable engines cuts cost and adds flight rhythm flexibility. And most of all it would reduce dependance on Blue Origin for new engines. (Wouldn't want to get the Amazon treatment.)

Step FOUR is flying the 3-core Vulcan version that Tory Bruno hyped at. It would increase maximum payload capacity, build on existing ULA technology, and reduce dependency on Northrop Grumman for the side boosters.

(Using the engine capture method from step 3, the costs for this should be limited)

Step FIVE: Build their own service module for Orion , and compete with SLS for launches (even at equal price it would increase flight rate, safety, reliability and boost Orion sales

They already have designs, and do the ESM engine integration.

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