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SpaceX, ULA Win Major Military Launch Contracts

By | August 10, 2020

A ULA Atlas V rocket carrying the AEHF-5 mission for the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center lifts off from Space Launch Complex-41 at 6:13 a.m. ET on Aug. 8, 2019. Photo: United Launch Alliance

United Launch Alliance (ULA) and SpaceX have been National Security Space Launch  (NSSL) service contracts, the U.S. Space Force announced Aug. 7. 

The Phase 2 Procurement contracts are for launch service orders starting in fiscal year 2020 through 2024, with the first missions launching in fiscal year 2022. ULA will receive a contract for approximately 60% of launch services orders and SpaceX will receive a contract for approximately 40% of launch services orders. 

ULA has been assigned USSF-51 and USSF-106 scheduled for launch in the Second Quarter fiscal year 2022, and Fourth Quarter fiscal year 2022, respectively. SpaceX has been assigned USSF-67, scheduled for launch in fourth quarter fiscal year 2022. ULA will receive $337 million to meet the 2022 launch dates, and SpaceX will receive $316 million. 

“This is a groundbreaking day, culminating years of strategic planning and effort by the Department of the Air Force, NRO and our launch service industry partners,” said Dr. William Roper, assistant secretary of the U.S. Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. “Maintaining a competitive launch market, servicing both government and commercial customers, is how we encourage continued innovation on assured access to space. Today’s awards mark a new epoch of space launch that will finally transition the Department off Russian RD-180 engines.”

The firm-fixed-price, Indefinite Delivery Requirement contracts were awarded by the Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC), in partnership with the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). 

Northrop Grumman and Blue Origin were also in the running and did not receive launch contracts.