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SpaceX and ULA win in competition to launch military satellites

The initial awards will give $ 316 million to SpaceX for one launch and $ 337 million to the ULA for two launches. But the total cost of the deal could cost much more, as the military will ask one company or another to launch additional missions.

SpaceX is expected to handle 40% of all national security satellites that will rise over the next five to seven years, while the ULA will handle the remaining 60%. The military did not say exactly how many launches that could be launched, nor did they provide a total contract value.

Exactly what the companies will start will remain a secret. The US security apparatus regularly launches spy satellites and other spacecraft into Earth orbit, and missions are highly classified.

Contracts for the launch of such satellites are a major part of the rocket industry̵

7;s revenue.

The long-awaited and hotly contested contract awards announced on Friday confirm SpaceX and ULA as the U.S. military’s original suppliers. The companies face competition from Blue Origin, the rocket company founded by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos, and Northrop Grumman, a longtime state contractor.

The blue origins of Bezos and Northrop Grumman – along with the ULA – all received funding as part of an earlier round of awards under a military bargaining program called the National Security Space Launch, or NSSL. But this money was intended to help develop new launch vehicles under development by each of the companies. It did not guarantee that any of the winners would receive valid start-up contracts.

We now know why SpaceX is suing the US government

SpaceX and ULA have been holding a duopoly of existing national security launches for years.

SpaceX sued the federal government in 2014 for the right to compete for these awards and eventually ended the ULA’s decades-long monopoly on them. SpaceX rockets are usually priced at a fraction of the price of the ULA, and it was not clear why the value of the contract awarded to SpaceX on Friday was much higher than the price of the ULA launch. The SpaceX contract also set the price of its mission more than three times the price of the $ 90 million sticker on its Falcon Heavy rocket.

Will Roper, the BBC’s assistant secretary for acquisition, declined to comment to reporters on Friday, citing the confidential nature of the missions.

SpaceX did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday,,

The NSSL awards were designed to encourage more competition, with the ultimate goal of reducing the amount of money the military spends on launches. But the price points were roughly in line with military spending.

Roper added that the price could eventually fall, and the BBC said in a press release that newer bargaining strategies have saved the military about $ 7 billion since 2013.

Both Blue Origin and Northrop Grumman will be able to compete for additional business in the third phase of the award of contracts, which are expected to be awarded in 2025. ULA contracts will have an advantage over Blue Origin, which builds huge engines, which he will use in his new Vulcan Centaur missile line.

Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith said in a statement Friday that the company is “disappointed” to be left without the awards, although it will continue to develop its New Glenn rocket to fulfill other commercial contracts, and the company is looking forward to ” to support the ULA’s long-standing role in introducing payloads to national security. ”

Northrop Grumman also said in a statement that he was “disappointed” with the result.

Although SpaceX was expected to receive this batch of awards, the company withdrew after being abandoned by the awards given by the military for a new rocket development in 2018.

Like other companies, SpaceX is developing a new launch vehicle known as Starship and Super Heavy, a system for rockets and spacecraft that Musk has identified as technology that will allow humans to colonize Mars. Theoretically, the missile can also be used to launch heavy military payloads into orbit.

A lawsuit filed by the company last year against the federal government said SpaceX’s proposal asked for money to support its three rockets, the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy, which are already in operation, as well as Starship.

However, officials decided that including Starship would turn SpaceX’s entire portfolio into the “highest risk” of all. SpaceX called the allegation “unreasonable,” according to the complaint.

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