US Space Force Signs CRADA With Blue Origin to Restart Certification of New Glenn Rocket
U.S. Space Force’s Space Systems Command (SSC) has entered into a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with Blue Origin for the company’s New Glenn Rocket, more than three years after the company and Northrop Grumman lost out to SpaceX and United Launch Alliance for launch awards under Phase 2 of National Security Space Launch (NSSL).
Brig. Gen. Stephen Purdy, Jr., SSC’s program executive officer for Assured Access to Space (AATS), and Jarrett Jones, Blue Origin’s senior vice president for Blue Glenn, were among the officials signing the CRADA at Los Angeles Air Force Base in California on Nov. 18.
The CRADA “marks the restart of certification activities for Blue Origin’s New Glenn that began in 2018 when Blue Origin won a Launch Service Agreement,” SSC said. “SSC terminated Blue Origin’s LSA in December 2020 after the National Security Space Launch (NSSL) Phase 2 winners were announced.”
“I look forward to Blue Origin completing New Glenn development and competing for the opportunity to win NSSL launch services,” Purdy said in an SSC statement. “More competitors in the national security space arena will help us meet an important national defense imperative to field advanced capabilities in space and get capabilities into the hands of our warfighters faster.”
While the U.S. Air Force said that it did not pay termination costs to Northrop Grumman and Blue Origin for ending their Launch Service Agreement Other Transaction Authority pacts on Dec. 31, 2020, the service did pay the companies more than $787 million for meeting milestones in the more than two years the companies spent developing their launch systems — OmegA for Northrop Grumman and New Glenn for Blue Origin. The Air Force paid $531 million to Northrop Grumman and $255.5 million to Blue Origin.
Under SSC’s new CRADA with Blue Origin, the company “must successfully complete certification flights and provide design and qualification data to enable AATS to conduct its independent verification and validation process,” SSC said.