SpaceX today won an $82.7 million contract to launch a GPS-3 navigational satellite into orbit for the U.S. Air Force, marking the first national security mission for the California-based company.
The award was virtually in the bag for SpaceX because United Launch Alliance, the only other company certified to launch national security payloads, dropped out of the competition last November.
At the time, ULA said it couldn’t submit a compliant bid because of federal restrictions on the use of Russian-made RD-180 engines. But last month, a ULA vice president said his company was actually seeking to avoid a “cost shootout” with SpaceX.
The vice president of engineering, Brett Tobey, resigned after his remarks went public.