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article imageSpaceX and ULA share new Air Force launch contracts

By Karen Graham     Feb 20, 2019 in Business
Washington - The battle between military space juggernaut United Launch Alliance and its upstart rival SpaceX continues, with the two companies splitting a collection of launch contracts worth $739 million awarded by the Air Force on Tuesday.
The contracts are awarded under the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV). The announcement was made Tuesday evening by the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center.
United Launch Alliance (ULA), a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin, will receive a $442 million award for three launches. The contract includes the launch of the fifth and possibly the sixth Space-Based Infrared System early warning satellites designed to provide an alert on the launch of intercontinental ballistic missiles launched from Russia, China, North Korea or Iran.
The third item in the ULA contract is the launch in 2022 of new classified space situational awareness mission called "Silent Barker." The satellite's payload “will provide threat indications and warning and space situational awareness information to better meet our warfighting mission,” General John Raymond, head of the Air Force Space Command, told a House Armed Services Committee panel last year. The satellite will serve as a model for “future collaborative acquisitions” between the military and the spy agency.
Elon Musk's SpaceX also nabbed a $297 million launch contract for two National Reconnaissance Office and one Air Force Space Command mission. The contract includes two Space-Based Infrared System early warning satellites and one Space Command satellite mission. Officials haven't released much information about this payload’s capabilities or purpose, according to Defense News.
“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.”
More about launch contracts, united launch alliance, Spacex, EELV program, Competition
 
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