Billionaires Launch Buyout Bids For SpaceX Rival As Rocket Race Heats Up

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by Tyler Durden
Thursday, Dec 21, 2023 - 02:45 PM

The space race among billionaires for rocket launches intensified, with news Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin and Cerberus, a private equity firm headed by billionaire Stephen Feinberg, submitted buyout proposals to United Launch Alliance, an aerospace and defense manufacturing company. 

The Wall Street Journal broke the news Thursday morning that ULA has three buyout suitors, including Blue Origin, Cerberus, and aviation and defense manufacturer Textron.

People familiar with the situation could not determine each of the valuations placed by the three suitors. They noted valuing ULA is particularly challenging because historical performance is based on rockets that will be discontinued. 

ULA has lucrative launch contracts with the Pentagon and is equally owned by Boeing and Lockheed. It dominated space launches for decades until Elon Musk's SpaceX ramped up launch activity in recent years. 

Musk posted on X earlier this month that his rockets launched over "80% of all Earth payload to orbit this year," outpacing China, Russia, and ULA by a mile. 

Jefferies estimates that ULA could be sold for between $2 billion and $3 billion. In 2015, another bidder offered around $2 billion. 

ULA has completed 155 missions over the years. WSJ noted Boeing and Lockheed are selling ULA as it phases out the Delta and Atlas launch vehicles for a new rocket called Vulcan Centaur. 

"Blue Origin has a major relationship with ULA, winning a deal five years ago to build engines for ULA's Vulcan rocket," WSJ said, adding, "Cerberus and Textron would be new to the rocket-launch business." 

The billionaire race for space accelerates with aims to compete with SpaceX, but Musk's company is significantly more advanced than any competitor.