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SpaceX Receives $82M Air Force Contract


SpaceX was awarded an $82 million contract to launch an Air Force GPS satellite.

The deal, reported by Reuters, ends the almost decade-long monopoly on military launches held by United Launch Alliance.

ULA – a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing – didn’t bid on the contact, citing Congressional pressure to limit the use of a Russian-made engine used on their rockets.

The contract between the Air Force and SpaceX provides funding for a new Falcon 9 rocket, as well as operation cost and launch certification.

"SpaceX is honored to have been awarded the first competitively sourced national security mission in over a decade," said Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX President and COO. "We greatly appreciate the confidence the U.S. Air Force has placed in our company and we look forward to working together towards the successful launch of the GPS III mission.”

SpaceX and the Air Force plan to launch the GPS satellite from Cape Canaveral in May of 2018.

The Air Force plans to solicit bids from private companies for future satellite launches.

The award comes the same week SpaceX’s CEO Elon Musk announced plans to launch a Dragon spacecraft to Mars as early as 2018.

Brendan Byrne is Central Florida Public Media's Assistant News Director, managing the day-to-day operations of the newsroom, editing daily news stories, and managing the organization's internship program. Byrne also hosts Central Florida Public Media's weekly radio show and podcast "Are We There Yet?" which explores human space exploration, and the weekly news roundup podcast "The Wrap."