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Air Force awards $739M launch service contracts

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFNS) -- The U.S. Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC), in partnership with the National Reconnaissance Office, awarded two Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) launch service contracts Feb. 19.

Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) has been awarded a $297 million firm-fixed-price contract for launch services to deliver AFSPC-44, NROL-85 and NROL-87 to the intended orbit. United Launch Alliance has been awarded a $441.76 million firm-fixed-price contract, for launch services to deliver SBIRS GEO-5, SBIRS GEO-6, and SILENTBARKER to the intended orbit.

Both contracts provide the U.S. government with a total launch solution for these missions, which includes launch vehicle production, mission integration, launch operations and spaceflight certification.

 “The competitive award of these EELV launch service contracts directly supports SMC’s mission of delivering resilient and affordable space capabilities to our nation while maintaining assured access to space,” said Lt. Gen. John Thompson, SMC commander, and program executive officer for space. “Phase 1A continues to enable the space enterprise to respond to the rapidly evolving operating environment.”

This is the sixth competition under the current Phase 1A procurement strategy. These launch-service contract awards strike a balance between meeting operational needs and lowering launch costs through reintroducing competition for national security space missions.

-- NROL-85 will launch in fiscal year 2021 from the Eastern Range.
-- NROL-87 will launch in FY2021 from the Western Range
-- SILENTBARKER will launch in FY2022 from the Eastern Range
-- SBIRS GEO-5 will launch in FY2021 from the Eastern Range
-- SBIRS GEO-6 is an option on the ULA contract with a possible launch in FY2022 from the Eastern Range
-- AFSPC-44 will launch in FY2021 from the Eastern Range

The SMC, located at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, California, is Air Force Space Command's center of excellence for acquiring and developing military space systems. Its portfolio includes GPS, military satellite communications, defense meteorological satellites, space launch and range systems, satellite control networks, space-based infrared systems, and space situational awareness capabilities.