The US Space Systems Command’s (SSC) Assured Access to Space (AATS) has entered a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) with Blue Origin.

The formal agreement was finalised during a private ceremony held at SSC’s headquarters, Los Angeles Air Force Base, El Segundo, California, on 18 November.

It was signed between AATS programme executive officer and SSC Space Operations director brigadier general Stephen Purdy, Jr, and Blue Origin New Glenn senior vice-president Jarrett Jones.

The new signing represents the commencement of New Glenn certification activities that started in 2018 when Blue Origin secured the initial launch service agreement (LSA).

In 2020, the US SSC terminated LSA with Blue Origin after National Security Space Launch (NSSL) Phase 2 winners were announced.

Purdy said: “This agreement paves the way for Blue Origin to compete for the next NSSL launch service competition and is an example of how we foster competition and leverage industry innovation.

“More competitors in the National Security Space arena will help us meet an important national defence imperative to field advanced capabilities in space and get capabilities into the hands of our warfighters faster.”

As part of the newly signed deal, Blue Origin is required to complete the certification flights of its heavy-lift launch vehicle, New Glenn.

The company should also provide the associated design and qualification data to AATS for conducting its independent verification and validation process.

The spaceport and transformative range initiatives will help AATS to meet unprecedented launch demands.

Jones said: “We are excited to formally begin executing flight worthiness certification processes, which will enable Space Force to maintain assured access to space and achieve 100% mission success with the New Glenn launch system.”