SpaceX, the Elon Musk-Helmed company that earlier this year saw its partially reusable Heavy Hawk officially become the most powerful rocket in the world, has won its first contract to use that system to deliver a payload
Per the Verge, the Air Force announced this week that the $ 130 million contract to deliver its AFSPC-52 satellite to orbit in 2020 will go to SpaceX, beating the joint venture Boeing-Lockheed Martin and the exclusive competitor United Launch Alliance & # 39; s use a Delta 4 rocket. According to Space News, the average cost of a Delta 4 launch is around $ 350 million, which may explain why the Air Force bets for the relatively unproven Falcon Heavy: It's a lot cheaper.
As noted by Verge, that much lower price point probably eased the decision of the Air Force even after SpaceX had trouble getting the Falcon 9 approved for military use:
The Air Force's will The United States (USAF) The new rocket so soon is a deviation from the prolonged process that SpaceX went through to get its Falcon 9 rocket certified for military missions. SpaceX spent two years, at least $ 60 million, and filed a lawsuit against the Air Force to obtain military certification for Falcon 9. (The lawsuit was suspended a few months before certification)
This is the fifth mission that will be added to the Falcon Heavy manifesto, by CNN Money. These include an Air Force STP-2 demonstration mission and a commercial launch of Arabsat both planned for this year, while fleets operators Intelsat, Viasat and Inmarsat have launch options with which they have not yet committed.
Then SpaceX will probably have some. It's time to continue working on Falcon Heavy before it has a chance to launch the secret cargo of the Air Force. Much is at stake, with Musk saying that the system cost around half a billion dollars to develop. An earlier mission of Falcon 9 to launch the classified satellite, multimillionaire Zuma for the Air Force went awry, with the charge lost, although subsequent investigations revealed that the careless work of Northrop Grumman and one of its subcontractors was the culprit. Two Falcon 9 also exploded.
"SpaceX is honored by the Falcon Heavy Air Force selection to launch the competitively awarded AFSPC-52 mission," SpaceX president and operations manager Gwynne Shotwell told CNN Money in a statement. "SpaceX is pleased to continue to provide the US taxpayer with the most cost-effective and reliable launch services for vital national security missions."
[The Verge/CNN Money]