The US Air Force (USAF) has awarded two new launch services contracts, with a total value of nearly $642.43m, to Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) and United Launch Alliance (ULA) for the evolved expendable launch vehicles (EELVs).
Of the two awards, SpaceX has secured a $290.59m firm-fixed-price contract to provide the launch services that would help deliver three GPS III missions (1 base and 2 options) to the intended orbit.
Planned to be launched between late next year and 2020, the GPS III missions will deliver sustained, reliable GPS capabilities the US warfighters and their allies, in addition to the civil users.
The other firm-fixed-price contract, valued at $351.83m, has been awarded to ULA for launch services to deliver Air Force Space Command (AFSPC)-8 and AFSPC-12 satellites to the intended orbit.
The AFSPC-8 mission comprises two identical Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program (GSSAP) satellites, GSSAP 5 and GSSAP 6, and is planned to be launched in 2020 into a geosynchronous orbit.
Also planned to launch in 2020 into a geosynchronous orbit, the AFSPC-12 mission comprises a forward space vehicle (SV) and an aft SV.
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Under the contracts, the two companies will provide the US Government with a total launch solution for the two missions, which are planned to be carried out from the USAF’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station or the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The entire launch solution range includes vehicle production, mission integration, launch operations and spaceflight certification.
USAF Space programme executive officer and Missile Systems Center (SMC) commander lieutenant general John F. Thompson said: “The competitive award of these two EELV launch service contracts directly supports SMC’s mission of delivering resilient and affordable space capabilities to our nation while maintaining assured access to space.”
The current launch services contracts are part of the fourth competition under the current Phase 1A procurement strategy, and are used to meet operational requirements while reducing launch costs through the reintroduction of competition for National Security Space missions.