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Article by: Veronica Magan
The U.S. Air Force has awarded two Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) launch service contracts to SpaceX and United Launch Alliance (ULA). SpaceX received a $290.6 million firm-fixed-price contract to orbit three Global Positioning System (GPS) III satellites (1 base and 2 options). ULA received a $354.8 million firm-fixed-price contract, to launch Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) 8 and AFSPC 12 satellites. AFSPC 8 consists of two identical Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program (GSSAP) satellites, and AFSPC-12 consists of the Wide Field of View Testbed and a secondary payload adapter.
Both contracts include launch vehicle production, mission integration, launch operations, and spaceflight certification. These missions are planned to be launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station or Kennedy Space Center, Florida.
This is the fourth competition under the current Phase 1A procurement strategy. These launch service contract awards strike a balance between meeting operational needs and lowering launch costs through reintroducing competition for national security space missions, according to the Air Force.