SpaceX Receives Additional $40.8 Million from Air Force to Develop Raptor Engine

Raptor engine hot fire. (Credit SpaceX)

The U.S. Air Force has awarded an additional $40.8 million to SpaceX for the development of its Raptor rocket engine.

The funding, awarded under the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program, involves the extension of a $33.7 million contract originally awarded in January. SpaceX agreed to spend $67.3 million under the jointly funded program under the original contract.

At the time,  the Air Force had options to contribute a total of $61.4 million to Raptor’s development, with SpaceX contributing an additional $122.8 million for a total amount of $184.2 million.

On June 8, the Air Force added $16.8 million to the contract, raising its contribution to $50.5 million. The ceiling on government spending on the program was set at $95 million at the time.

Under the contract, SpaceX’s is developing a Raptor prototype for use as an upper stage on the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launch vehicles. The engine, which will use liquid oxygen and liquid methane, also will power the spaceship that SpaceX Founder Elon Musk is developing to send people to Mars.

The Air Force is funding propulsion work by multiple companies as part of an effort to transition way from dependence on Russian- supplied RD-180 propulsion system used on ULA’s Atlas V rocket.

SpaceX will perform work on the program at its headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif., NASA Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, and the Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif.