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United Launch Alliance nears approval
Posted: Thu, Mar 30, 2006, 2:03 PM ET (1903 GMT)
Delta 4 first launch cose-up image (Boeing) The federal government is expected to give its final approval to a joint venture that mergers the noncommercial launch operations of Boeing and Lockheed Martin, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday. According to the report, the Defense Department and the Federal Trade Commission are completing work on an agreement that would permit the formation of the United Launch Alliance (ULA), and sources told the paper that the agreement should be completed in the next few weeks. The approval of the ULA will include provisions to allay any antitrust concerns from satellite manufacturers, notably Northrop Grumman; the agreement will also include provisions regarding future costs and how to treat new entrants into the market. Boeing and Lockheed announced the ULA nearly a year ago, and had expected to receive government approval by the end of 2005, but extended reviews by the Pentagon in particular delayed the joint venture. The agreement between the two companies allows either one to pull out of the deal if the ULA isn't in place by the end of March, but both companies have expressed their commitment to the joint venture in recent weeks.
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