Air Force awards SpaceX, ULA with billions in launch contracts

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The U.S. Air Force awarded Elon Musk’s SpaceX and United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing, billions of contracts Friday as part of its National Security Space launch services.

ULA will receive $ 337 million for two launches in 2022, and SpaceX will receive $ 316 million for a launch in the same year. ULA will get 60% and SpaceX will get 40% of the launch contracts thereafter, which will total billions of dollars.

ULA President and CEO Tory Bruno touted his company’s new Vulcan Centaur rocket, which replaces its old Atlas and Delta rockets.

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“Vulcan Centaur offers higher performance and a better price while continuing to offer our unmatched reliability and orbital precision that will continue to provide reliable and timely access to space into the future,” he said in a communicated.

SpaceX did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.

Blue Origins of Northrop Grumman and Jeff Bezos were also competing for contracts.

Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith said he was “disappointed with the Air Force’s decision” not to accept his offer, which was based on an “unprecedented private investment of more than $ 2, $ 5 billion ”in its New Glenn rocket, but that it will continue to develop it.

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The first stage of the New Glenn rocket is designed to be reused 25 times. SpaceX has also designed its rockets, such as the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy, with reuse in mind. According to Musk’s company, “a rapidly reusable space launcher could reduce the cost of space travel by a hundred times.”

The Air Force said on Friday that contracting private companies in this way had saved them $ 7 billion since 2013.

“It was an extremely difficult decision and I appreciate the hard work of the industry to adapt their commercial launch systems to affordably and reliably meet our most stressful national security requirements,” said Col. Robert Bongiovi. , director of the SMC launch business in a statement.

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