The U.S. Space Force has has engaged El Segundo’s SpaceX and United Launch Alliance for a $653 million contract for rocket missions from 2023-2028.
Blue Origin and Northrop Grumman came out as runners up for the DOD’s $653 million National Security Space Launch Phase 2 contract for the missions planned from 2023-2028. The launches will take place at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and Vandenberg Air Force Base.
The Vulcan Centaur is the ULA contribution, a successor to the Atlas 5; SpaceX will use its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets. ULA received $337 million and SpaceX gets $316 million.
Col. Robert Bongiovi, director of the Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center’s Launch Enterprise said it was a challenging decision.
“I look forward to working with ULA and SpaceX as we progress toward our first Phase 2 launches,” Bongiovi said.
Vulcan launches are expected to commence in 2021. SpaceX is coming off a string of well-documented successes across a mind-boggling array of technologies. The Crew Dragon splashed down to Earth returning two American astronauts from the ISS and marking the first splashdown since 1975. Launched from Cape Canaveral aboard a Falcon 9 the Dragon Crew capsule reached the ISS last May.
Atlas 5 video courtesy Staff Sgt. Kaleb Mayfield and Tech. Sgt. Kurt Villavicencio, 30th Space Wing
SpaceX Starlink satellite launch: