U.S. Space Force awards SpaceX $29 million to gain insight into rocket launches

U.S. Space Force awards SpaceX $29 million to gain insight into rocket launches

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The United States Space Force awarded SpaceX a $29.6 million National Security Space Launch Phase 2 contract to allow the military to observe and receive knowledge into SpaceX missions. The contract allows U.S. military members to gain direct insight into non-National Security Space [NSS] fleet operations surveillance for one year. They will engage in engineering surveillance of SpaceX’s fleet of launch vehicles during upcoming missions. On November 9 the U.S. Space Force stated the contract "provides early integration studies and fleet surveillance for non-national security space missions." It will enable the military to observe missions up close. They will see how SpaceX runs operations not only during military missions, also during commercial and internal rocket launches. According to SpaceNews, the U.S. Space Force's contract announcement, the SpaceX missions surveillance will include access to proprietary "tools, systems, processes and launch site activities developed by the launch service provider for non-national security space missions."

The military will gain access into an exciting period for SpaceX as it prepares to conduct regular NASA and civilian astronaut launches aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft. SpaceX is also actively deploying internet-beaming Starlink satellites into low Earth orbit atop Falcon 9 rockets approximately twice per month to complete its constellation of thousands of satellites that will beam broadband signal worldwide. The company's launch manifest is expected to increase in 2021 which could enable the military to analyze more rocket launches.

The U.S. Space Force recently granted SpaceX approval to reuse and recover Falcon 9 first-stage boosters during national security missions for the first time. The Falcon 9 rocket is the first orbital-class booster capable of landing vertically soon after depoying payload or launching astronauts to space. SpaceX is pushing the boundaries in the aerospace industry by reusing boosters to significantly reduce the cost of spaceflight. --"SpaceX is proud to leverage Falcon 9′s flight-proven benefits and capabilities for national security space launch missions," SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell told reporters, "We appreciate the effort that the U.S. Space Force invested into the evaluation and are pleased that they see the benefits of the technology. Our extensive experience with reuse has allowed SpaceX to continually upgrade the fleet and save significant precious tax dollars on these launches."

About the Author

Evelyn Arevalo

Evelyn Arevalo

Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.

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