US Air Force awards $739m in launch contracts to ULA and SpaceX

 The US Air Force has divided $739 million in launch contracts between United Launch Alliance and SpaceX for six national security missions slated for 2021-2022.

Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center announced the contracts, awarded under the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program, Tuesday evening.

ULA will receive $441.76 million under a fixed-price contract to launch SBIRS GEO-5, SBIRS GEO-6 and Silent Barker, a classified space situational awareness mission.

NROL-85, NROL-87 and Silent Barker are classified missions for the National Reconnaissance Office. The Space-Based Infrared System Geosynchronous Earth Orbit SBIRS GEO-5, SBIRS GEO-6 and AFSPC-44 are Air Force satellites.

This is the sixth competition under the current Phase 1A EELV procurement. The final request for proposals for these launches was released Jan. 31, 2018 and proposals were due April 16, 2018.

“The competitive award of these EELV launch service contracts directly supports SMC’s mission of delivering resilient and affordable space capabilities to our nation while maintaining assured access to space,” Lt. Gen. John Thompson, SMC commander and program executive officer for space, said in a statement. “Phase 1A continues to enable the space enterprise to respond to the rapidly evolving operating environment.”