ULA pushing, and pushed, to reduce costs

For various reasons, ULA is aiming to reduce the costs of its launch systems: ULA Says Workforce Reductions will Help Cut Costs – SpaceNews.com.

One of those reasons is no doubt the possibility of SpaceX eventually loosening ULA’s grip on military launches:

> Given the U.S. policy of barring non-U.S. rockets from launching U.S. government satellites, the most likely near-term competition for ULA will be from Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, Calif., whose Falcon 9 rocket recently completed a demonstration mission of launching into low Earth orbit, and recovering, a cargo capsule.

SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk was sitting with [ULA Chief Operating Officer Dan] Collins on the panel, and he used the occasion to urge the government to scrap its cost-plus contracting scheme in favor of fixed-price contracts. The cost-plus formula, he said, makes “good people do bad things. … You’re creating an incentive to maximize costs up to the limit of the program being canceled.”

“The Air Force has erected enormous barriers to entry at least in the launch market, and made it really very difficult to get in,” Musk said. “It’s sort of strange that we have over 30 missions on contract for Falcon 9 — which is a vehicle that has more capability than the Delta 4 Medium — but not one of those is with the Air Force. Why is that?”

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