SpaceX, a space launch service provider and equipment manufacturer based in Hawthorne, California, has recently performed well after successfully returning NASA astronauts from the international space station (ISS) to Earth last week, foreign media reported. Known for its reusable first stage rocket boosters, the company has made successful progress in an industry known for uncertain development schedules and huge entry costs. Now
the company has won the U.S. Air Force launch contract by beating rivals blue origin and Northrop Grumman.
SpaceX’s key victory was due to a key change in U.S. law, which banned any rocket using Russian made engines for launches ordered by the U.S. air force. This change was introduced in 2017 through the defense authorization act of fiscal year 2017, section 1602 (c) (2), which prevents the air force from using any such engine after 2022.
Friday’s news relates to the U.S. Air Force’s phase II national security launch contract, which will cover launches from 2022 to 2024. To this end, the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) and the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) on Friday awarded contracts to ula and SpaceX, with a cumulative value of $653 million for launch service support and contracts in fiscal year 2022.
SpaceX won a $316 million contract, including launch service support and contracted mission orders. In fiscal 2022, SpaceX will launch only one mission for the U.S. air force, known as the ussf-67. It is not clear which launch vehicle the company will use in the launch, and the choice of launch vehicle for national security launch is determined by several factors in addition to the weight of the mission payload.
the air force has defined 12 orbits, which have different requirements for the apogee, perigee, mass and tilt angle of launch vehicles. The launch vehicles must meet these requirements in order to obtain NSSL mission certification. Of the five U.S. launch vehicles currently in the testing, design and evaluation stages, only SpaceX’s Falcon heavy has successfully performed its mission. In addition to Falcon heavy, blue origin’s new Glenn, Northrop Grumman’s Omega and Omega heavy, and ula’s Vulcan launch vehicles are all designed to meet military launch requirements.