ULA Drops Out of GPS III Launch Competition

The United Launch Alliance (ULA) send-off of the 12th GPS Block IIF satellite scheduled for next February 3 may turn out to be the last GPS launch for the Boeing/Lockheed Martin joint venture — at least for a while. ULA did not submit a bid to launch the next generation of GPS satellites (GPS III).


The United Launch Alliance (ULA) send-off of the 12th GPS Block IIF satellite scheduled for next February 3 may turn out to be the last GPS launch for the Boeing/Lockheed Martin joint venture — at least for a while. ULA did not submit a bid to launch the next generation of GPS satellites (GPS III).

In a statement released on November 16, ULA said that it would be “unable to submit a compliant bid for GPS III-X launch services.” The company blamed its decision on the lack of Atlas rockets due to restrictions imposed by the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act, which continued a ban on Russian-built RD-180 engines imposed following Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

The ULA also said that the GPS III satellite launch request for proposal (RFP) Lowest Price Technically Acceptable (PTA) provision allowed “for no ability to differentiate between competitors on the basis of critical factors such as reliability, schedule certainty, technical capability and past performance.”

The launch alliance also said that it does not have the accounting systems in place to make a certification, as required by the RFP, that funds from other government contracts will not benefit the GPS III launch mission

ULA’s decision left Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) as the likely sole bidder on competition for the contract, which closed November 16.

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