SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launch system has been certified by the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) for national security space missions, including launching military satellite.
SpaceX, a private space transport company, is now eligible to bid on national security missions against the United Launch Alliance (ULA) as well as the Atlas and Delta launch system families.
CEO and Founder of SpaceX Elon Musk said in a prepared statement that “this is an important step toward bringing competition to National Security Space launch.” He added, “We thank the Air Force for its confidence in us and look forward to serving it well.”
Following the successful conclusion of the certification process which took two years, the private space transport company can start competing for projects in June. It is expected that Air Force’s launch service proposals for the next-generation GPS 3 satellites will be opened in June.
The U.S. Air Force claims to have invested more than $60 million and 150 human resources in this two-year certification process.
Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James said, “This is a very important milestone for the Air Force and the Department of Defense. SpaceX’s emergence as a viable commercial launch provider provides the opportunity to compete launch services for the first time in almost a decade. Ultimately, leveraging of the commercial space market drives down cost to the American taxpayer and improves our military’s resiliency.”