Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. is expected to once again compete against a joint venture of defense giant Boeing Co and Lockheed Martin Corp for shares in at least 39 US military and intelligence satellite launches from fiscal years 2025 to 2027.
Other competitors may also emerge for the third phase of the National Security Space Launch Program, which is placed in the new Air Force budget estimates. Northrop Grumman Corp and Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin LLC unsuccessfully bid at the previous stage to try again.
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Musk made his way into the lucrative defense launch business after campaigning vigorously in Congress and the courts, where he denounced the Boeing-Lockheed joint venture, United Launch Alliance, as the monopoly of the two largest US defense contractors.
After settling a lawsuit against the Air Force in 2015, SpaceX was certified to compete for launch.
United Launch Alliance won most of the 42 military launches planned for Phase 2 through fiscal year 2024. SpaceX’s missions this year include two national security payloads developed by the National Reconnaissance Office, which is in charge of spy satellites.
To an extent, SpaceX may now be the established leader as the Boeing-Lockheed team is offering its new Vulcan family of rockets, which have not yet flown.
The White House in its fiscal 2023 budget has proposed giving the Air Force the largest percentage increase among military services, largely to develop new space-based systems such as the “Resilient Missile Warning and Tracking” program, The purpose of which is to maneuver Chinese hypersonics. Weapons, weapons.
The research and development budget of the Space Force alone would increase to $15.8 billion, up from the $11.3 billion requested for the year. The launch program will send these developing systems into space.
Space Force spokesman Captain James Fisher said in a statement, the Phase 3 acquisition strategy is currently being worked out to determine “contract type, duration of performance and total number of launches under development.”
This will be a full and open competition “so it may include additional competitors beyond the existing Phase 2 providers,” he said.
Fischer said the award would be given until September 30, 2024.
Fischer said that of the remaining Phase 2 missions, eight are planned for fiscal 2023, including three for the Space Force, three for the recently absorbed Space Development Agency and two for the National Reconnaissance Office.
Fischer said twenty are planned, including seven NRO and 13 Space Force launches in fiscal 2024.
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