The United States Space Force Space Systems Command (SSC) issued multiple launch orders to SpaceX and United Launch Alliance (ULA) on May 26 as part of the National Security Space Launch (NSSL) Phase 2 Launch Service Procurement. It ordered five launches aboard ULA's Vulcan Centaur launch vehicle that is actively under development. The rocket is expected to conduct a debut flight before the end of 2022. The mission's it will launch are the U.S. Space Force's: GPS III-7 navigation satellite, USSF-23, USSF-43, first Weather System Follow-on (WGS-11+) satellite, and USSF-16.
SSC ordered three spaceflights to launch payload aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, including: USSF-124, USSF-62, and one mission for the Space Development Agency (SDA) that will deploy the Tranche 1 Transport Layer satellite into Polar Orbit. It will be the SDA mission first mission out of six it plans as part of a national security constellation to track hypersonic ballistic missiles or other weapons that could be a threat from outer space. The awarded missions will be launched over the next 2 years.
"Today’s action represents the crucial role the Space Force plays in putting vital space capability successfully into orbit to meet the emerging threat,” said Brig. Gen. Stephen Purdy, SSC Program Executive Officer, Assured Access to Space. "Now, more than ever, we must do everything in our power to ensure each National Security Space launch is successful; it’s the best way to stay ahead of our adversaries in the near term. We launch the nation’s 'eyes and ears,' secure communications, GPS, and Space Awareness that provide our warfighters and national decision-makers with the vital information they need to protect our nation and allies," they stated in a press release.
"We work closely with our launch service providers and mission partners to ensure launch capability exists to get our critical payloads to orbit on-time and without failure," said Col. Chad Melone, Chief Launch Procurement and Integration Division, SSC. "ULA and SpaceX have highly capable launch systems and we have full confidence that they will meet our needs for the eight missions we ordered today," they stated on May 26. The cost for the ordered mission's has not been released yet.
Featured Image: SpaceX Falcon 9 & United Launch Alliance Vulcan Centaur launch vehicle (SpaceX photo / ULA render)