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Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin Has Reportedly Won a Big Contract With a Big Rival

Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin space company will reportedly provide the engines for the Vulcan, a new rocket being built by the Boeing-Lockheed Martin joint venture United Launch Alliance.

The move is interesting because, like United Launch Alliance, Blue Origin also wants to launch stuff for the military. The Vulcan will be used to launch U.S. military and spy satellites, and Blue Origin’s under-development New Glenn launcher will use the same BE-4 engine.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the deal will be announced Thursday, ending United Launch’s reliance on Russian-made RD-180 engines in its current rockets.

The paper reported that the negotiations over the deal lasted for months, partly due to United Launch’s concerns about relying on a rival for its engines. Ultimately, it seems Blue Origin beat Aerojet Rocketdyne for the contract.

Blue Origin and United Launch are both competing for Air Force contracts aimed at building a fleet of low-cost rockets. Other companies in the running include Northrop Grumman and Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

Blue Origin is also looking to take paying passengers into space. Bezos said a week ago that the company would launch a crewed mission next year, although it is not clear whether passengers were involved in this stage of the company’s development. Blue Origin is again competing with SpaceX in this domain.