[Satnews] The U. S. Air Force awarded launch services contracts on October 1 for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) L-47 and Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) GEO-4 to United Launch Alliance (ULA) missions as part of the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) Phase 1 Block Buy contract.
The Phase 1 Block Buy contract with ULA garnered $4.4 billion in total savings, with 36 rocket cores procured from Fiscal Years 2013 to 2017. These two missions count toward the original contractual Phase 1 Block Buy commitment to ULA. Furthermore, the Air Force will compete a total of up to nine missions in the Phase 1A from Fiscal Years 2015 to 2017. The release of the GPS III RFP on September 30 marks the beginning of the Phase 1A competitions.
The launch service contracts include launch vehicle production, mission integration and launch operations for the NROL-47 and SBIRS GEO-4 missions, which are both scheduled to launch in FY 2018. NROL-47 will support the NRO's mission of providing innovative overhead intelligence systems for national security. SBIRS GEO-4 will provide early warning for missile launches. The Air Force's acquisition strategy for these contract awards achieves a balance between mission assurance, meeting operational needs, lowering launch costs, and reintroducing competition for National Security Space missions.
The Space and Missile Systems Center is the U.S. Air Force's center of acquisition excellence for acquiring and developing military space systems including 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.