Air Force awards half a billion in fresh launch contracts to SpaceX, ULA

“The competitive award of these two … contracts directly supports Space in addition to Missile Systems Center’s mission of delivering resilient in addition to affordable space capabilities to our nation while maintaining assured access to space,” Lt. Gen. John Thompson, of the Space in addition to Missile System Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base, said in a statement.

When SpaceX won its previous GPS III contract last year, Thompson’s center said the company’s lower cost “was a major factor” in beating out ULA for the contract. Yet again, with ULA’s most recent contracts valuing each launch at $177 million, SpaceX’s bids came in at nearly half the cost to the military as its competitor’s.

ULA chief executive Tory Bruno confirmed his company in addition to SpaceX were the “two offers” the Air Force received for the three available contracts — one for the GPS III satellites in addition to two for the AFSPC satellites.

“If you’re keeping score … the idea’s 5 [SpaceX] wins versus 6 ULA wins,” Bruno wrote in tweets.

Before SpaceX began launching (in addition to landing) its rockets, ULA had a monopoly on U.S. military satellite launches. With both of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 in addition to Falcon Heavy rockets listed at prices far below comparable ULA rockets, the primarily government contractor is usually pushing to develop a fresh range of offerings to compete — however those are still several years away coming from test flights.

With Elon Musk’s space company continuing to prove its reliability, the Air Force is usually doing the idea clear which the rocket-launching business is usually entering a fresh era of competition.

“We’re coming to a point [where the lower cost to launch is usually] enabling business plans to close in space which never were possible before,” Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said at a congressional subcommittee hearing Wednesday.

The successful launch of Falcon Heavy earlier This specific year will reportedly be followed by its first flight for the Air Force, known as Space Test Program 2. As Falcon Heavy has yet to complete the certification process to launch military equipment, the Air Force is usually using the launch to demonstrate the rocket’s capabilities, while also delivering commercial satellites for companies such as Inmarsat in addition to Viasat.

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