The Department of Defense is staying with him SpaceX and the United Launch Alliance as its two initial services to U.S. national security missions for the foreseeable future.
In an announcement Friday (Aug. 7), U.S. Space Force and Air Force officials said SpaceX and ULA have won multibillion-dollar military launch contracts to launch national security cargo over the next five years, with ULAs receiving 60% of their contracts. satellite launch and SpaceX receive 40%.
Mimet was part of a competition for four-way launch services known as the National Security Space Launch Phase, Service Procurement announced in 2018. SpaceX and ULA were against Northrop Grumman and Blue Origin.
Related: The most dangerous space weapons concepts ever
SpaceX was actually left out of the first round, with the Air Force giving ULA development dollars, Northrop Grumman and Blue origin worth $ 967 million, $ 792 million and $ 500 million respectively. But the California-based rocket maker eventually won a share of the prize.
“This was an extremely tough decision and I appreciate the hard-working industry completing to adapt their commercial laying systems to afford our most stressful national security requirements in an affordable and reliable way,” Colonel Robert Bongiov, director of the Enterprise Space and Missile Systems Center, said in a statement.
The Air Force selected the existing Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy missiles for national security launches, along with the new ULA Vulcan Centaur missile, which is still in development. It is currently estimated that it does first flight in 2021, ULA’s Vulcan Centaur will end the country’s confidence in the Russian-built RD-180 engine currently used by the company’s current cart, the Atlas V rocket.
The Department of Defense has tried to end trust in the Russian engine and gave ULA the first-round development fund to help develop the new missile. Vulcan Centaur will be powered by a EU-4 engine of blue origin.
So far, the Air Force has ordered three missions for 2022 under the new agreements. SpaceX will earn $ 316 million to launch a mission, assigned USSF-67, in late 2022. ULA was given $ 337 million to launch two missions – USSF-51 and USSF-106 – scheduled for the second and fourth quarters of fiscal year 2022, respectively.
Blue Origin and Northrop Grumman express disappointment at not being selected in the Phase 2 contracts, but are expected to continue developing their respective launch vehicles. Blue Origin is currently developing a new orbital rocket, the New Glenn, while Northrop Grumman is developing the OmegA booster for future releases.
Follow Amy Thompson on Twitter @astrogingersnap. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.