Launch Vehicle Contracts Go to Blue Origin, Northrop Grumman and United Launch Alliance
By Sandra Erwin, SpaceNews.com // October 11, 2018
SpaceX previously received an LSA award but did not make the cut this time
WASHINGTON DC — The U.S. Air Force announced on Wednesday it is awarding three contracts collectively worth about $2 billion to Blue Origin, Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems and United Launch Alliance to develop launch system prototypes.
The funding is for the development of competing launch system prototypes geared toward launching national security payloads.
Each company will receive an initial award of $181 million, $109 million of which are identified in the announcement as fiscal year 2018 funds.
The Launch Service Agreements are for the development of Blue Origin’s New Glenn, Northrop Grumman’s Omega and ULA’s Vulcan Centaur rockets.
The awards are part of cost-sharing arrangements — known as Other Transaction Authority agreements — that the Air Force is signing with the three companies to ensure it has multiple competitors for future launch contracts.
The Air Force has committed through 2024 a total of $500 million in OTA funds for Blue Origin, $792 million for Northrop Grumman and $967 million for ULA.
SpaceX previously received an LSA award but did not make the cut this time. However, SpaceX remains eligible to bid on future Air Force launch contracts, Pentagon officials said.
The Launch Service Agreements will “facilitate the development of three domestic launch system prototypes and enable the future competitive selection of two national security space launch service providers for future procurements,” the Air Force said in a news release.
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