LIVERMORE, Calif. (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory PR) — The population of human-made satellites orbiting Earth has skyrocketed over the past 60 years. Launches nearly doubled from 2016 to 2017, and a significant contributor to this growth has been the development and implementation of small satellites that are easier and less expensive to build and more cost efficient to launch than conventional ones. Today, the hottest destination for these spacecraft is low-Earth orbit (LEO)—in the range of a few hundred kilometers above the planet’s surface.
The following statement can be attributed to Gwynne Shotwell, President and Chief Operating Officer at SpaceX:
“SpaceX means to serve as the Air Force’s long-term provider for space launch, offering existing, certified and proven launch systems capable of carrying out the full spectrum of national security space launch missions and requirements.”
Overall, SpaceX’s mature, operationally proven Falcon launch system delivers significant flight heritage and is fully capable of reliably supporting Phase 2 National Security Space Launch missions.
Phase 2 presents an opportunity to utilize and expand this certified operational capability to support the full spectrum of national security space launch requirements, leveraging the years-long, close technical relationship between SpaceX and the USG Team. This collaboration has delivered mission success for critical national security payloads, including National Reconnaissance Office Launch 76 (NROL-76), Orbital Test Vehicle 5 (OTV-5), Global Positioning System III-2 (GPS III-2), and STP-2.
SpaceX’s Falcon launch system is the only system offered for Phase 2 NSSL that is flying today and has already achieved national security space certification—SpaceX is clearly the lowest-risk solution for the Government to provide assured access to space on time and on budget.
The U.S. Air Force has awarded United Launch Alliance (ULA) a contract modification worth $156.7 million for a Delta IV Heavy launch of a reconnaissance satellite in 2024.
“This modification provides for launch vehicle production services for National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) Launch Mission Three, the last of three planned NRO launch missions under this contract,” USAF said in announcing the contract.
The modification increases the cumulative value of the contract for the three launches from $310,784,574 to $467,537,345. The $156.7 million is about half of what the third launch will cost.
The launch could be the final one for ULA’s Delta IV family of rockets. The company is phasing out use of the booster as it develops the Vulcan booster.
GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has named George Morrow to serve as acting director of the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, effective Thursday, Aug. 1. Morrow will replace Chris Scolese, who is departing NASA to be the director of the National Reconnaissance Office.
Morrow has been serving as Goddard’s deputy center director since
April 2015 and previously served as both director and deputy director of
the Flight Projects Directorate at Goddard. He began his career at
Goddard in 1983 as the Lead Spacecraft Battery Systems Engineer. He
holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from the
University of Virginia and Masters of Engineering Administration degree
from George Washington University.
Scolese is leaving NASA after 32 years of service. He has served as
Goddard’s center director for seven years, before which he was the
agency’s associate administrator at NASA Headquarters in Washington,
which included six months as acting NASA administrator in 2009.
Scolese’s career also included tenures as NASA chief engineer and
Goddard’s deputy center director.
Goddard is home to the nation’s largest organization of scientists,
engineers and technologists who build spacecraft, instruments and new
technology to study Earth, the Sun, our solar system and the universe.
Learn more about NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center at: