The US Air Force has awarded the second, competitively sourced, National Security Space (NSS) launch services contract in more than a decade.
Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) was awarded a contract for Global Positioning System (GPS) III Launch Services. This is a firm-fixed price, standalone contract with a total value of $96,500,490. SpaceX will provide the Government with a total launch solution for the GPS-III satellite, which includes launch vehicle production, mission integration, and launch operations and spaceflight certification. The launch will be the third GPS III launch and is scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida in February 2019.
GPS III is the next-generation of GPS satellites that will introduce new capabilities to meet the higher demands of both military and civilian users. The satellite is expected to provide improved anti-jamming capabilities as well as improved accuracy for precision navigation and timing. It will incorporate the common L1C signal, which is compatible with the European Space Agency’s Galileo global navigation satellite system and complement current services with the addition of new civil and military signals.
The Phase 1A procurement strategy reintroduces competition for national security space launch services. This is the second of nine competitive launch services planned in the FY 2017 President’s Budget Request under the current Phase 1A procurement strategy. The Phase 1A construct was recently extended from FY17 to FY19 to allow the development of new launch vehicles, which added 5 additional competitive launches for a total of 14 competitive launches. The next competitive award for launch services is the Space Test Program (STP) 3 satellite. This award marks another milestone in the Air Force’s ongoing efforts to reintroduce a competitive procurement environment into the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program.
In May 2015, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) was certified for EELV launches resulting in two launch service providers that are capable to design, produce, qualify, and deliver a launch capability and provide the mission assurance support required to deliver national security space satellites to orbit. The certified baseline configuration of SpaceX's Falcon 9 Launch System to Falcon 9 Upgrade was recently updated for use in National Security Space (NSS) missions.
The Air Force Space Command's Space and Missile Systems Center, located at the Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., is the US. Air Force's center of 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.