While SpaceX`s Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets have the lifting capability to meet pentagon launch requirements, including access to unusual and hard-to-reach orbits, there will be some modifications to launchers and ground systems to accommodate the new missions. “We will work with these two companies to find the right point to link their work under the LSA agreements,” Roper said. The LSA`s intention “was to create a more competitive environment that leads to Phase 2,” he said. “It`s not about wearing it indefinitely.” In 2018, the Air Force selected Blue Origin, Northrop Grumman and United Launch Alliance for the next round of launch service agreement awards. These agreements were valued cumulatively at approximately $2.3 billion. A letter dated May 29, 1, signed by 28 lawmakers, asks the Air Force not to give in to pressure for a third supplier to embark on the procurement of Phase 2 launch services. The Air Force ended competition for its EELV-class missions when the Pentagon authorized the consolidation of Boeing and Lockheed Martin in 2006, a move deemed necessary by ULA and military officials to ensure the survival of the Atlas and Delta missile families to launch U.S. national security satellites. Military officials provided more launch contracts for competition between ULA and SpaceX in a “Phase 1A” interim acquisition cycle, before moving to Phase 2, where the missiles were only required to use U.S.-made engines. The Air Force certified SpaceX`s Falcon 9 rocket for launching national security satellites in 2015, a process the military promised to accelerate after SpaceX filed a lawsuit against the Air Force the previous year to protest the Pentagon`s order for $11 billion of “Block Buy” missiles by the Pentagon 5 and Delta 4 in 2013. The Air Force says more than two Phase 2 contractors are compromising missions. “It`s an open-ended quantity contract because we wanted to be ready for a series of launches that may be underway,” Roper said Friday. The purpose of these agreements was to help Phase 2 competitors pay for launcher development and infrastructure.
Blue Origin received $500 million; Northrop Grumman $792 million and ULA $967 million. The funds were to be distributed by 2024 and the Air Force said from the outset that the LSAs would be terminated with companies that did not win a Phase 2 purchase contract. These agreements include satellite launch contracts for the U.S. Space Force, the National Reconnaissance Office, the Missile Defense Agency, and other military services and agencies offering an anchor client for SpaceX and ULA. ULA, the 50-50 joint venture created in 2006 by Boeing and Lockheed Martin, will obtain by the end of 2024 60 percent of the military`s largest satellite launch orders for missions that will begin between 2022 and the end of 2027. SpaceX will receive 40 percent of national security launch contracts during the same period, the Pentagon said. The additional payment to start-up suppliers – which an industry source estimated at around US$100 million per company – was unexpected. It recalls the “ELC” funding by which the Air Force paid ULA and was criticized by SpaceX as public subsidies that commercial companies do not receive. “This is a revolutionary day that culminates in years of strategic planning and efforts by the Air Force Department, an NGO, and our launch service industry partners,” said Will Roper, U.S. Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics.
“Maintaining a competitive launch market, which secures both public and commercial customers, is how we encourage continuous innovation for safe access to space.” There is no cap on the number of launches the Pentagon can order in Phase 2, but Roper expects about 32 missions.