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Satnews Daily
August 9th, 2016

Tempers Remain Calm As USAF Awards ULA Exclusive Contracts Over SpaceX

A Delta 4 Heavy rocket carrying a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office lifts off June 11 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. United Launch Alliance.

No dueling swords were drawn when the news became know  that the United Launch Alliance was awarded the two Delta 4 Heavy missions over their rival SpaceX. The US Air Force made it known that they were awarding the two Delta 4 Heavy launches for the National Reconnaissance Office in 2020 and 2023, stating that ULA was the "only responsible source" for the launches.

It was thought that SpaceX's Falcon Heavy had been expected to compete against the Delta 4 Heavy for such missions, but a SpaceX spokesman said the two missions awarded to ULA had "very specific technical requirements" and therefore did not oppose the ULA contract.

The contract's value wasn't announced by the US Air Force but in previous press releases ULA has shared that the Delta 4 Heavy rocket costs about $350 million, suggesting the contract could be worth approximately $700 million.

Even though the Air Force gave ULA the exclusive contract they have been stressing competitive bidding into the national security launch industry. In April, SpaceX won the first of nine launch contracts the Defense Department intends to put out for bid in the next three years.