The U.S. Space Force designated United Launch Alliance and SpaceX as the winners of a multibillion-dollar competition for national security launches over a five-year period, passing up a proposal from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture in the process.
Northrop Grumman and its OmegA rocket also lost out in the Phase II competition for the National Security Space Launch program.
ULA will receive a 60% share of the launch manifest for contracts awarded in the 2020-2024 time frame, with the first missions launching in fiscal 2022, said William Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics.
SpaceX will receive the other 40%.
The competition extended through the creation of the U.S. Space Force, whose Space and Missile Systems Center will be in charge of executing the launches in partnership with the National Reconnaissance Office.
The five-year Phase II program provides for fixed-price but indefinite-delivery contracts, which means there isn’t a specified total payout. But Roper said it’d be reasonable to estimate that somewhere around 32 to 34 launches would be covered, which would translate to billions of dollars in business.
Three launches were assigned today: ULA is scheduled to launch two missions known as USSF-51 and USSF-106 for the Space Force in 2022, while SpaceX has been assigned USSF-67 in mid-2022.
ULA’s two contracts amount to $337 million, and SpaceX’s contract is worth $316 million. Roper said details about the payloads are classified.