SpaceX Wins U.S. Air Force Launch Contract

The Autonomous Flight Safety System first flew from the Eastern Range on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 CRS-10 Feb. 19, 2017. The use of AFSS reduces range space lift costs through reductions in range equipment maintenance and upgrades. (Credit: SpaceX)

The U.S. Air Force has awarded SpaceX a contract worth $96,500,490 to launch a GPS III satellite aboard a Falcon 9 booster.

The service announced the contract on a DOD procurement website on Tuesday. The announcement gives a completion date of April 30, 2019.

“This award is the result of a competitive acquisition with two offers received,” the announcement states. United Launch Alliance (ULA) is the only other company with launch vehicles certified to fly payloads of this class.

The is the second contract the U.S. Air Force has awarded SpaceX for a GPS III launch. ULA did not submit a bid for the previous award.

  • ReSpaceAge

    Just what they need, more customers backlogged on there manifest. Headed to the nearest WiFi to watch the launch tonight. One of those old fashioned one’s where they dump the booster in the sea. The weather delay means the next Pre used flight will definitely be no sooner than April. Still no better than once a month for calender year 2017. Sure hope they can pump up the volume going forward. My bet is they fly 14 this year and lucky if they can do that.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Yup, the rate is not showing signs of addressing that backlog. One believable way they can do it this year is start to re-fly those boosters in the barn. That way it does not turn into a ‘work harder’, or ‘get more employees’ type of solution. Oh, and of course, not lose another booster to a systemic failure again. That too. So two things they can do …..

  • duheagle

    You could, of course, prove correct. But Echostar 23 just went up so there won’t be any more delays due to that mission. The currently scheduled departure of SES-10 is March 27. That still allows up to four days of slippage while still launching in March. A launch date of March 29 would equal SpaceX’s best to-date pad turnaround of 13 days which it did on SLC-40 in April 2015.

    The new LC-39A TEL that leans way back instead of just a little bit back as the old SLC-40 TEL did is supposed to obviate a lot of what used to be routinely accepted pad infrastructure damage, mostly frizzled umbilicals on the TEL itself. If SpaceX elects to go with the currently scheduled SES-10 date of March 27, that would represent a new best to-date pad turnaround of 11 days. SpaceX will most likely choose to either stick with the date it has or move things back a bit by sometime tomorrow. Staying with the 27th and then making that date would be a strong earnest of intent anent clearing its backlog with all deliberate speed. It’ll be most interesting to see what is decided and then what transpires.

    For the whole calendar year 2017, I’m thinking more like 24 – 26 missions than 14.

  • duheagle

    True enough. Shotwell said a few days ago that SpaceX hopes to relaunch six previously flown 1st stages this year starting with the SES-10 mission currently scheduled for March 27.

  • ReSpaceAge

    I hope your right !

    any number of launches over 14 would be amazing 🙂