A joint venture of Boeing Co (BA.N) and Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) plans to announce on Wednesday that it will team up with Blue Origin, a company run by Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) founder Jeff Bezos, to develop a new rocket engine, a source familiar with the plans said.
Officials at Boeing and Lockheed declined comment. No comment was immediately available from Blue Origin or United Launch Alliance (ULA), the Boeing-Lockheed venture that uses Russian-built engines to power some of its rockets.
ULA had sent out a request for information asking the U.S. aerospace industry earlier this year for ideas on how to replace the Russian-built RD-180 that powers ULA’s heavy-lift Atlas 5 rockets, which are used to launch many U.S. military and spy satellites.
Tensions with Russia over its actions in Ukraine have raised concerns that Russia could cut off deliveries of the RD-180 engines, according to U.S. officials, who hope to start funding work on a U.S. alternative in the Pentagon’s 2016 budget.
The partnership agreement will pit Bezos against Elon Musk, founder and chief executive of Space Exploration Technologies Corp, or SpaceX, which is seeking certification from the Air Force for its own Falcon 9 rockets.