(Associated Press WorldStream via NewsEdge) The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has approved the joint venture between defense contractors Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing Co. to launch government satellites, removing a final barrier to the long-delayed proposal.
While the commission concluded that the $1.06-billion partnership between the two biggest US defense firms could unfairly muscle out competitors, it said that concern was outweighed by the national security demands for a reliable and cheaper way to send military and other satellites into space.
The so-called United Launch Alliance (ULA) was proposed in May 2005 to resolve a long-standing dispute between Lockheed and Boeing, then the two major suppliers of rockets for government launches.
It also came after Boeing was stripped of $1 billion in launch contracts and suspended for 20 months from launches by the Air Force after accusations that it used thousands of sensitive documents stolen from Lockheed to gain an edge in the bitter rivalry. Boeing later agreed to pay $615 million to end a Justice Department probe of the case.
Â© 2006 The Associated Press
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