Elon Musk’s SpaceX Wins US Military National Security Mission Contract | Scientific and technical news

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Elon Musk’s SpaceX has won a competitive contract to conduct secret national security launches for the U.S. military, according to a U.S. Air Force announcement.

It’s a well-paid privilege for the billionaire’s company at $ 316million (£ 241million) and for which the private spaceflight company has also fought – having twice sued the US military after have already been refused similar contracts.

A launch has been confirmed for 2022 and the Pentagon expects it will use SpaceX for a dozen additional missions through 2026, but no details will be released on classified payloads.

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Elon Musk’s company previously sued the US over launch deals

The contract for phase two of the National Security Space Launch (NSSL) program will cover 40% of the missions of the US Space Force.

The remaining 60% of launches will be managed, for $ 337 million (£ 257 million), by the United Launch Alliance – a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin that previously monopolized US government launches since 2006.

In particular by recycling its Falcon 9 rockets where its competitors are forced to build new ones with each launch, SpaceX has managed to achieve a business economy that others do not have.

Northrop Grumman and fellow billionaire missed contract Jeff Bezosof Blue origin, although the latter will supply engines for ULA rockets in the future.

Of the four companies, SpaceX was the only one not included in the contracts awarded for Phase 1 of NSSL, which court documents reveal because the US government feared SpaceX would use the funds to develop your Starship spatialship.

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Blue Origin by Jeff Bezos said he was “disappointed” with the result

Although SpaceX has dropped one of its lawsuits over a previous failed contract offer, it continues to challenge the U.S. government in court over its decision not to give it any phase one funding.

In a statement responding to the announcement, Blue Origin said it was “disappointed” that its New Glenn rocket was not selected for the NSSL’s Phase Two program.

“We remain confident that New Glenn will play a critical role for the national security community going forward due to the growing awareness that space is a contested area and that a robust, responsive and resilient launch capability. is increasingly vital to the security of the United States. »Company added.

Northrup Grumman said: “We are disappointed with this decision. We are confident that we have submitted a strong proposal that reflects our extensive space launch experience and brings value to our client, and we look forward to our client feedback. “

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