SpaceX awarded $100m USAF contract

by Chris Bergin

Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) has been awarded a $100 million IDIQ contract by the U.S. Air Force/Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC Detachment 12) for Responsive Small Spacelift (RSS) launch services.
The purpose of this contract will be to provide low cost orbital launch vehicles and responsive (launch 12 months from award of basic contract) launch services, on a recurring basis, using a mature vehicle design and a commercially derived booster to meet mission/payload requirements.

“We are grateful to the Air Force for the endorsement implied by awarding SpaceX a $100 million launch contract,” said Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX. “With our Falcon I launch vehicle, we expect to provide the Defense Department and other customers breakthrough improvements in cost and reliability.”

This is an indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract requiring flexibility in responding to unique technical requirements, vehicle quantity, and schedule changes. Work will be complete by April 2010.

Falcon Status

Both the first and second stage SpaceX engines have completed two full mission duration firings and will complete acceptance testing in the coming weeks at the company’s 300-acre testing facility in McGregor, Texas. Falcon I has been shipped to the SpaceX launch facility, SLC 3W at Vandenberg Air Force Base and will undergo a system test firing on Tuesday, May 3.

The maiden flight of Falcon I carrying TacSat-1 is scheduled to follow the launch of the last Titan IV from SLC 4 at Vandenberg Air Force Base. Assuming an on time departure of the classified Titan IV mission, SpaceX expects a launch window in late summer. The second Falcon I launch will be from the Kwajalein Atoll for DARPA, also in late summer.

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