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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket stands ready to carry a Space Force GPS satellite into orbit in November, 2020.
US Space Force
Elon Musk’s rocket company has secured two big-ticket missions for 2023, as has its competitor United Launch Alliance.
The US Space Force awarded a pair of launch contracts to each of the commercial space companies through the National Security Space Launch program.
According to a US Defense Department statement, ULA (a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin) receives $224. 2 million for two missions, USSF-112 and USSF-87. SpaceX gets $159.7 million for USSF-36 and NROL-69. NROL missions typically involve payloads for the National Reconnaissance Office.
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It’s yet another project to add to Musk’s SpaceX agenda, which includes a relentless schedule of Starlink launches and a dramatic development program for his next-generation Starship system.
ULA and SpaceX were selected last August to be the providers for the second phase of the launch program, beating out Blue Origin and Northrop Grumman. The program could include over 30 missions over a five-year period, with ULA conducting 60% of the launches and SpaceX the remaining 40 percent.
Three launches through the program set for 2022 were previously announced, with two of those to be undertaken by ULA and one by SpaceX. The details of those launches are not yet clear.
Both companies have an established track record with national security missions, including launching spy satellites and the US military’s secretive space plane.
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