Published: Mon, June 25, 2018
Research | By Francis Brooks

SpaceX’s massive Falcon Heavy rocket lands $130 million military launch contract

SpaceX’s massive Falcon Heavy rocket lands $130 million military launch contract

The Air Force Space Command's Space and Missile Systems Center, located at the Los Angeles Air Force Base, California, is the U.S. Air Force's center of excellence for acquiring and developing military space systems.

SpaceX has made no secret of its desire to compete with ULA to land lucrative military launch contracts.

The Lockheed Martin and Boeing joint venture previously had a monopoly on the Air Force program meant to launch sensitive payloads into space.

The contract announced by the Department of Defense on Thursday is the first awarded to SpaceX. For that particular endeavor, the USAF required SpaceX to complete three successful Falcon 9 launches, while also preventing SpaceX from engaging in launch contract competitions until their launch vehicle was certified in May 2015.

The company just won a Dollars 130 million contract with US Air Force for using its Falcon Heavy rocket for launching a space command satellite. Regardless of the specifics, many of which have likely been kept under wraps, the Air Force must have been quite impressed with the rocket's debut performance, and Falcon Heavy has now - according to President and COO Gwynne Shotwell - been certified for USAF missions just four months later.

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"SpaceX is pleased to continue offering the American taxpayer the most cost-effective, reliable launch services for vital national security space missions", said Shotwell. The contract was worth $11 billion over five years and was awarded to ULA with no competitive bidding. It sees the company provide a total launch solution with the launch happening at some point in 2020 from Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

It's not immediately clear what role the classified satellite on this mission, AFSPC-52, will play when it is launched in 2020.

Falcon Heavy garnered widespread public attention during its maiden launch in February. The catch here is that an SLS launch is expected to cost about seven times the cost of a Falcon Heavy launch.

'The SLS can bring equipment into space that is too large for the Falcon Heavy'.

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