[Satnews] The USAF's Space and Missile Systems Center has awarded the final Other Transaction Agreements for shared public-private investments in Rocket Propulsion System prototypes.
One award is to Aerojet Rocketdyne for development of the AR1 rocket propulsion system. The initial government investment is $115.3 million. The other award is to United Launch Alliance for development of the Vulcan/BE-4 rocket propulsion system and the ACES rocket propulsion system. The initial government investment is $46.6 million with $45.8 million for the Vulcan/BE-4 effort and $0.8 million for the ACES effort.
Two OTAs were previously awarded on January 13 to SpaceX and Orbital ATK.
The OTA awards are part of a comprehensive Air Force plan to transition off the Russian-supplied RD-180 propulsion system used on the Atlas V rocket by entering into innovative partnerships with industry with the ultimate goal to competitively procure launch services in a domestic launch market.
The Air Force has awarded a portfolio of investments in industry's RPS solutions, which vary depending on what industry proposed. The solicitation allowed companies to submit proposals for the development of a RPS prototype, which ranged from full development of a new RPS, modifications to an existing RPS to meet NSS requirements, smaller projects to address high risk items for an RPS or subcomponents, or activities required to test or qualify a new or existing RPS to meet EELV requirements. Therefore, the value of each agreement varies depending on what was proposed. At least one third of the total cost of the RPS prototype project will be paid out of funds provided by parties to the transactions other than the federal government.
These RPS investments, which will initially occur over the course of 12-18 months, will build the foundation for future investments in industry launch system solutions and launch service commitments from invested companies. Concurrently, the Air Force will continue to award launch services contracts to certified providers who demonstrate the capability to design, produce, qualify, and deliver launch systems and provide the mission assurance support required to deliver national security space satellites to orbit.
"Having two or more domestic, commercially viable launch providers that also meet national security space requirements continues to be our end goal," said Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, the Air Force's Program Executive Officer for Space and SMC commander. "These innovative public-private partnerships with industry as they develop their rocket propulsion systems are a key part of the EELV acquisition strategy to assure access to space and address the urgent need to transition away from strategic foreign reliance."