With evolving aerial and space technology and increasing demands for national security, it was finally time for the U.S. government to adapt to the evolutions. The United States Air Force has announced it has picked two major companies to perform its future rocket launches.
Which two companies?
SpaceX and United Launch Alliance, the two major companies in the game of space have been rewarded with $316 million and $337 million contracts. First launches are reportedly expected in 2022.
The Air Force has already planned out the launches it wants the companies to perform, beginning with two ULA launches in the second quarter of 2022 and one more in the fourth quarter, as well as a further SpaceX launch in the fourth quarter of 2022.
The Air Force has indicated it expects to order launch services each year as part of the contract, with around 60% of launches being performed by ULA and 40% performed by SpaceX.
The U.S. Air Force has proactively planned out the the launch sequences two years in advance, and here’s what they are:
ULA launch sequence consists of three total launches in 2022. Two in the second quarter and one in the fourth quarter.
SpaceX gets a single launch for the year taking place in the fourth quarter of 2022 respectively.
The launches have been divided into 60% and 40% with ULA getting the bigger piece of the pie. Launch services will be ordered each year as a part of the contract, states the U.S. Air Force.
The two other competitors for the contract were Blue Origin by Jeff Bezos and Northrop Grumman. However, Ars Technica reported that the criteria behind the selection was the company’s ability to meet the technical demands of the future missions.
Why SpaceX & ULA?
While ULA has been long-performing launches for the U.S. Air Force, SpaceX has impressively captured a lot of attention from the government with their recent work on Crew Dragon Capsule for flying astronauts back and forth from the ISS.
SpaceX is reportedly ahead of ULA with their already developed Falcon Heavy rocket perfectly suitable for Air Force launches.