California Senator Dianne Feinstein joins the fray against Alabama aerospace companies
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has joined Alabama Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Saks) in objecting to the competitive bid process that resulted in pioneering opportunities for two Alabama aerospace companies.
In a letter dated February 4 and addressed to Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson, Feinstein and a colleague called for modifications to a process which resulted in major contracts for United Launch Alliance (ULA) and Alabama’s newest aerospace company, Blue Origin.
The letter contends that the requirements included in the process have prevented other companies from qualifying as launch providers.
Rogers cited many of the same concerns in a similar letter to Secretary Wilson in November 2018.
Feinstein’s objection was reportedly on behalf of a California-based launch company.
These calls for revisions in the process could create obstacles for future participation by the Alabama companies.
The U.S. Air Force awarded the contracts in October 2018 for the development of new space vehicles for use on American national security missions.
The contract award resulted in ULA receiving the go-ahead to begin manufacturing the Vulcan Centaur rocket at its Decatur plant.
Blue Origin broke ground this year on a massive new facility in Huntsville that will represent a $200 million investment by the company in the state and create more than 300 jobs.
The company plans to manufacture engines capable of powering ULA’s Vulcan Centaur.
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) previously praised the award as “great news” for Alabama.
At the Blue Origin groundbreaking, Governor Kay Ivey paid tribute to the leading role Alabama and companies like Blue Origin and ULA will play in shedding the nation’s dependence on foreign rocket components.
The competitive bid process at the center of the controversy had been put in place as a response to a congressional mandate to move away from foreign-made rocket engines.
“We built the rocket that took man to the moon and returned him safely,” Ivey said. “And now it’s going to be Alabama that takes men and women into deep space and returns them safely. The United States will no longer be dependent on other countries. Now we will be leading space exploration and it will start right here in Sweet Home Alabama.”
She also highlighted the partnership between Blue Origin and ULA as an example of Alabama’s manufacturing success.
“Blue Origin and United Launch Alliance, they represent what we are all about in Alabama: growing opportunities for our people, being innovative and finding success when we work together,” Ivey concluded.
Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News.