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VulcanLiftoffIt’s Vulcan vs. Vulcan.

United Launch Alliance (ULA) today named its new rocket “Vulcan,” and Vulcan Inc. — the investment arm of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen — doesn’t appear to be happy about it.

Paul Allen
Paul Allen

Vulcan, which on Monday also launched a new space initiative called Vulcan Aerospace, is challenging ULA’s decision to name its first proprietary rocket “Vulcan.”

“Vulcan is a trademark of Vulcan Inc. and we have informed ULA of our trademark rights,” said Chuck Beames, executive director of Allen’s Stratolaunch Systems and president of Vulcan Aerospace, in a statement to Reuters.

He added, “Paul Allen and Vulcan were early leaders within space exploration with the launch of SpaceShipOne more than a decade ago. We are flattered by ULA’s tribute to our legacy by naming their new rocket ‘Vulcan’.”

A Vulcan spokesperson confirmed that statement in response to GeekWire’s inquiry, and declined further comment.

A ULA spokesperson said in response, “We have done our due diligence regarding the legal right to use the name Vulcan.  ULA is committed to taking every reasonable step to avoid any confusion with other entities using this name and we are confident we can do so.  Our use of the name is associated with the expendable launch vehicle that will serve as America’s Ride To Space for specific types of missions.”

ULA, a Lockheed Martin and Boeing joint venture, picked “Vulcan” after a crowdsourcing vote. ULA CEO Tory Bruno announced the news today by picking from three baseball hats, a la football and basketball high school recruits announcing their college decision.

Vulcan’s challenge marks the end of quite a busy day in the space industry. Not only did Vulcan also debut Vulcan Aerospace, but the launch of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket was scrubbed due to weather.

Updated at 11 p.m. with ULA statement.

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