The Federal Trade Commission asked Boeing ( BA) and Lockheed Martin ( LMT) for more information on their United Launch Alliance venture.

The request is the FTC's second on the case, which concerns a venture outlined in May in an effort to settle a late-1990s trade secrets case and combine rocket-launching operations. The companies said they believe the government needs more time to complete its review and reiterated their commitment to the transaction and the benefits it could bring to the U.S. government.

"Bringing together two launch systems to provide assured access to space at lower cost and with greater efficiency is an extremely complex undertaking, and it is imperative that together we work through all the details to the satisfaction of all the government agencies involved," said Michael Gass, who is designated to become CEO of United Launch Alliance.

ULA is a joint venture to be established by Boeing and Lockheed Martin to provide two families of expendable launch vehicles to U.S. government customers. It is to combine the production, engineering, test and launch operations associated with federal launches of Boeing Delta and Lockheed Martin Atlas rockets. The companies said the linkup will reduce annual federal costs by $100 million to $150 million. They added in May that the combination will result in some job losses among the combined operations' 3,800 workers, though they didn't say how many.

As part of the deal, Boeing and Lockheed would settle outstanding disputes stemming from the Air Force's evolved expendable launch vehicle program. The Air Force in 2003 determined that Boeing had stolen Lockheed secrets. The findings led the Air Force to suspend three Boeing officials and increase Lockheed launches at the expense of Boeing ones.

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