The US Air Force has selected the United Launch Alliance and SpaceX to meet the NSSL Phase 2 contract’s demands. This five-year contract involves the deployment of national security payloads for the US forces, which attracts $653 million.
ULA and SpaceX overtook Blue Origin and Northrop Grumman to win the Phase 2 contract called the National Security Space Launch payload deal.
So far, the United Launch Alliance confirmed the reception of a $337 million deal while SpaceX got a $316 million deal for the respective projects. These contracts will run through the 2022 financial year according to the press release by the Pentagon.
SpaceX and ULA will be launching missions beginning 2022 to 2027 when the Phase 2 contract schedules to come to a halt. The Department of Defense and the National Reconnaissance Office will be launching over 30 missions in this Phase 2 contract.
Air Force’s assistant secretary for procurement, technology and transit services, Will Roper, stated that the agency motivates innovation by serving both the government and commercials through the competitive launch market.
Roper reiterates that the success of Phase 2 contracts will mark a milestone in which the US will stop depending on Russia for the launch of payloads. He said that the deployment of the American payloads via the American rockets would minimize their reliance on the Russian RD-180 engines. The US will be able to launch space vehicles in both its private and public sectors.
The transition to the advanced space launch cars will help the US minimize their use of Atlas V rocket, which has a Russian-made engine. The Department of Defense will no longer purchase the Atlas V rockets for its launches once this ideology becomes law at the terminal of 2022.
Phase 2 of the NSSL contract details that ULA will receive 60% of the subcontracts, while SpaceX will receive 40%. The Pentagon will be giving out missions to these rockets’ developers annually, depending on the rising demand. The Air Force forecasts to purchase launches in the next half-decade until the purpose comes to a cataclysmic end.
The initiation of the Phase 2 NSSL contract began last year with the auction of agreement between various firms. The firms that participated in this bid include Blue Origin, the United Launch Alliance, SpaceX, and Northrop Grumman. The startups like Blue Origin and Northrop Grumman lost the contracts to ULA and SpaceX, forcing them to focus on their ongoing projects.
Nonetheless, ULA is organizing the creation of the Vulcan Centaur launch vehicle, which survives on Blue Origin’s engine. SpaceX, on the other hand, is giving out Falcon 9 and the Falcon Heavy, the approved projects for Phase 2. The CEO of Blue Origin is happy that their engine will be usable in the upcoming eventful launches of the Vulcan.
In conclusion, Northrop Grumman was unhappy with the Pentagon’s choice but confident that they submitted a quality proposal for consideration in the NSSL Phase 2 contract bid.