[SatNews] The Air Force Space Command's Space and Missile Systems Center has determined that the Space Exploration Technologies Corporation's (SpaceX) September 29, 2013, launch of its Falcon 9 v1.1 launch vehicle will count toward SpaceX's Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) certification.
Under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA), signed by SpaceX and SMC in June 2013, SpaceX must meet rigorous certification requirements and perform at least three successful flights of a common launch vehicle configuration for the company to be considered for launching critical and high cost NSS payloads. Certification requirements for the Falcon 9 v1.1 include at least three successful flights of a common launch vehicle configuration, as well as passing a number of technical reviews, audits and independent verification, and validation of the launch vehicle's ground systems and manufacturing processes. Where possible, the Air Force will work jointly with SpaceX to accelerate completing the requirements from these phases to expedite certification.
"This flight represents one of many certification requirements jointly agreed to between the Air Force and SpaceX," said Lt. Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski, SMC commander.
SMC is still assessing the SpaceX' Falcon 9 v1.1 launches on December 3, 2013, and January 6, 2014, for their applicability towards the certification requirements. Additionally, the Air Force will remain engaged with SpaceX for resolution of any issues experienced during these flights and any planned system improvements.
SMC, located at Los Angeles Air Force Base, California, is the U.S. Air Force's center of acquisition excellence for acquiring and developing military space systems. Its portfolio includes the Global Positioning System, military satellite communications, defense meteorological satellites, space launch and range systems, satellite control networks, space based infrared systems and space situational awareness capabilities.