It would seem that the federal government is in no hurry to give its seal of approval to the United Launch Alliance, the Boeing-Lockheed Martin EELV joint venture. When the deal was announced in early May, the companies expected to close the deal by the end of the year, but required approvals from the Federal Trade Commission and the Defense Department have not been obtained yet, and Lockheed officials told AP and Reuters on Monday Lockheed officials said they don’t expect those approvals to come in the final two weeks of this year. The Decatur (Ala.) Daily reported Tuesday that Boeing and Lockheed officials had hoped that the DOD would recommend to the FTC that they approve the ULA after a “high-level meeting” on Friday, but afterwards instead asked for yet more information about the joint venture.
Besides the regulatory approvals, the ULA is still facing a lawsuit from SpaceX, who wants to block the venture as anti-competitive. Meanwhile, on Monday the National Taxpayers Union issued a press release saying that the ULA “unfairly strand[s] taxpayers with a half-billion-dollar-a-year subsidy.” NTU Director of Government Affairs Paul Gessing: “Over the past decade, the Air Force’s Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) initiative has moved from the best of intentions to the worst of results, and now the EELV is poised to go where no rocket program has gone before – toward a near-permanent government bailout of Boeing’s and Lockheed’s launch businesses.”