Watch out, Elon Musk: the United Launch Alliance is coming after SpaceX's dominance with a proposal for "space trucks."
SpaceX has been dominating the commercial space shipping sphere lately, but its biggest competitor, the United Launch Alliance, is going after Elon Musk’s company big time. ULA is creating a cargo carrier that they are calling a “space truck.”
ULA is made up of a partnership of defense contracting giants Lockheed Martin and Boeing, but they have played second fiddle to SpaceX has the company has aggressively pursued contracts with NASA to send cargo to the International Space Station. However, ULA is hoping to put an end to that dominance.
Tony Bruno, ULA’s chief executive officer, recently described the space trucks in an interview with Quartz, but the company has long been pursuing this technology, arguing that Musk’s idea to reuse rockets isn’t the answer because the savings are limited.
It’s a major effort for ULA, whose contract with NASA will expire in 2019 and is under pressure to stay relevant in order to earn more work.
ULA’s space truck concept will be somewhat similar to Musk’s plan for a reusable rocket, but instead of just having a reusable first stage, it will also have a reusable second stage, which is the portion of the rocket sends the payload on its final journey. And instead of bringing the rocket back, ULA will seek to leave the rusable second stage in space, remaining in orbit.