SpaceX has won U.S. military recognition to launch on reusable Balkan boosters

SpaceX has won U.S. military recognition to launch on reusable Balkan boosters

A U.S. military deal with SpaceX has been modified to allow future launches on reusable Falcon 9 boosters, thus saving the United States millions of dollars.

The Lockheed Martin series GPS III satellites are operated by the U.S. Space Force Space and Missile Systems Center. The first two GPS III spacecraft were launched on the cost-effective Falcon 9 and the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket.

The wearable SpaceX Falcon 9B1054 booster launches US Air Force GPS III SV01 satellite into orbit on December 23, 2018 during its first and only flight. (SpaceX)

The previous contract was modified to allow Falcon 9 boosters to launch GPS III passengers. In June, a third GPS III vehicle was launched on the Falcon 9 from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Base in Florida. This is the first time the booster that carried the GPS III vehicle has been recovered.

Pictured is the SpaceX Falcon 9 Booster P1060 returning to Port Canaveral after a successful recovery in June 2020. (Richard Angle)

“I’m proud of our partnership with SpaceX, which has successfully negotiated contract changes for the upcoming GPS III missions, saving taxpayers $ 52.7 million, while recording our unprecedented success,” said Dr. Walt Lauderdale, Center for Space and Missile Systems. The head of the operations division said in a statement issued by the U.S. Space Force Center for Space and Missile Systems.

Quinn Shotwell, President and CEO of SpaceX, commented, “We appreciate the effort invested in the U.S. Space Force appraisal and are pleased to see the benefits of technology. Our extensive experience in recycling has allowed SpaceX to continuously upgrade its fleet and save significant precious tax dollars on these launches. ”

The new modification of the GPS III launch service agreement not only allows the Falcon 9 boosters to be restored, but also to launch on previously flown boosters. However, this correction will only apply to future launches of the GPS III SV05 and SV06 satellites.

Payload justification with GPS III SV03 integrated with SpaceX Falcon 9 in June 2020. (SpaceX)

Plans to launch a series of GPS III satellites on reusable Falcon 9s were first launched in 2021 during Phase 2 of the launch service agreement. The current deal with the U.S. space force ends with the launch of the GPS III SV06 satellite in 2021. The National Defense Space Launch Phase 2 contracts for the remaining four GPS III satellites have not yet been awarded, and will be auctioned off by both SpaceX and ULA. Will be taken.

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Upcoming Launch of the GPS III SV04 satellite currently scheduled for Tuesday, September 29 Will use a new Falcon 9 booster (B1062) from SLC-40. The new Falcon 9 did a healthy standard fire test of its nine Merlin 1D engines early on Friday, September 25th. Later that evening the attached payload was captured by a Twitter user Coliper88 The Falcon 9 booster should be connected to the Cape Canaveral Air Force Base from a nearby processing facility.

GPS III SV04 is due to be launched on Tuesday, September 29 (0155-0210 UTC September 30) at 9:55-10: 10am with a window expanding to EDT. The 45th Meteorological Force predicts the weather will be mostly favorable. If 24 hour recycling is required the weather will improve slightly to 80%.

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