While the world keeps struggling with the disaster 2020 has turned out to be, SpaceX continues to add laurels to its names. After all of its latest space achievements, the Elon Musk led space company has now bagged a deal from US Department of Defense, along with ULA, to send satellites into Earth’s orbit over the next few years. As a part of this deal, these two companies will fulfill US DoD’s satellite based needs for the years 2022-2027.
United Launch Alliance (ULA), being a veteran, got the bigger chunk, and will receive 60% of the contracts issued by the defense department. However for a company as new as SpaceX, managing to bag 40% of the entire contracts is a big opportunity. The Elon Musk led company managed to steal the contracts from Northrop Grumman and Blue Origin.
This feat becomes more impressive when you consider that the DoD offered ULA, Northrop Grumman and Blue Origin a sum of $2 billion in contracts to develop next-generation rockets in 2018. This initiative was undertaken to weed out Russia’s influence in America’s space programs, since the Atlas V being used by ULA relied on the Russian RD-180 engine and as the world knows by now, no one wants USA and Russia to be together in anything.
However, SpaceX contested this deal, and said that it was wrong to ignore the company’s Starship and Falcon 9 rockets, which since then have managed to conduct a successful ‘hop’ mission and send humans to space, respectively.
These successful displays of power and the numerous missions completed by the Falcon 9 rocket have led the US DoD to bypass Northrop Grumman and Blue Origin and choose SpaceX as its go to contractor for sending military satellites into space.
“Today’s awards mark a new epoch of space launch that will finally transition the Department off Russian RD-180 engines,” said Dr. William Roper, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics.
This deal opens up a pandora’s box full of opportunities for the company, as each contract can cost over $100 million. Even though the DoD has not committed to a specific number of launches in this 5 year window, SpaceX and ULA have already procured $316 million and $337 million from the department “to meet fiscal year 2022 launch dates,” according to a blog post.
“This acquisition will maintain our unprecedented mission success record, transition National Security Space payloads to new launch vehicles, assure access for current and future space architectures, and cultivate innovative mission assurance practices,” stated Lt. Gen. John Thompson, commander of SMC, and program executive officer for Space.