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Boeing Rejects Aerojet's $2 Billion Bid to Buy Rocket-Maker ULA

Boeing Co., the world's largest aerospace company, is rejecting rocket engine-maker Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings Inc.'s $2 billion bid to buy rocket-maker United Launch Alliance LLC, an executive said.

Chris Chadwick, chief executive officer of the Chicago-based company's defense unit, discussed the proposal for ULA, a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin Corp., with reporters on Wednesday at the Air and Space Conference near Washington, D.C.

"This bid, we've really not spent much time on it at all because we're focusing on a totally different direction," he said. "There was no serious consideration of this and it's not even in our expansive thought at this point in time."

He added, "You look at ULA, 99 consecutive launches without an accident. We're the best in industry. Others are trying to attain the record we have. Our focus is on the customer and delivering."

Aerojet earlier this month made a $2 billion cash bid for ULA, the sole supplier of the Air Force's Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle, or EELV, program, which launches military and spy satellites into space aboard Atlas V and Delta IV rockets.

While the rockets are extremely reliable, they've also increased in cost. The overall acquisition effort is now estimated to cost the government $70 billion through 2030.

Space Exploration Technologies Corp., known as SpaceX and headed by billionaire Elon Musk, is vying to break into the military launch market with cheaper boosters.

After it was certified earlier this year to begin competing in the EELV program, it suffered its first major setback when one of its Falcon 9 rockets -- en route to resupply the International Space Station -- exploded almost about two minutes after launch.

Boeing said it plans to move forward with its partnership with Blue Origin LLC to develop a new rocket engine, called the BE-4, which is scheduled to make its first flight in 2019.

"That's the path we're going to move down," Chadwick said.

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