A joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin plans to announce on Wednesday that it will team up with Blue Origin, a company run by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, to develop a new rocket engine, a source familiar with the plans told Reuters. Officials at Boeing and Lockheed declined comment. No comment was immediately available from Blue Origin or United Launch Alliance, the Boeing-Lockheed venture that uses Russian-built engines to power some of its rockets.
ULA passed along a request for information asking the U.S. aerospace industry earlier this year for ideas on how to replace the Russian-built RD-180 engine that powers ULA's heavy-lift Atlas 5 rockets, which are used to launch many U.S. military and spy satellites. Tensions with Russia over its actions in Ukraine have raised concerns that Russia could cut off RD-180 deliveries. A partnership between Blue Origin and ULA would pit Bezos against Elon Musk —the founder of SpaceX, which is seeking Air Force certification for its own Falcon 9 rockets.
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