11 août 2020 | International, Aérospatial

After a hard-fought competition, ULA and SpaceX to remain military’s rocket launch providers

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WASHINGTON — United Launch Alliance and SpaceX have won the Space Force's next-generation rocket contract, locking the two companies in as the Defense Department's launch providers of choice for the foreseeable future.

ULA — a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing — was awarded $337 million, while SpaceX will be getting $316 million for phase two of the National Security Space Launch (NSSL) program, the Pentagon announced Aug. 7. They beat out Blue Origin and Northrop Grumman.

Phase 2 of the NSSL program is the U.S. military's vehicle for ordering launch services from fiscal year 2022 to 2027. ULA is slated to get 60 percent of the manifest, with SpaceX getting the remainder.

“We don't think this is the last round of innovation that we're going to see,” Will Roper, the Air Force's acquisition executive, told reporters during an Aug. 7 roundtable. “Although we're excited for the next five years, we're looking ahead to ‘Phase 3' five years from now and wondering what new leap-ahead, lower-cost technologies might be on the forefront to make assured access to space not just assured, but cheaper.”

The award pays for the first three missions in 2022, which include two ULA launches and one for SpaceX. All are classified, Roper said.

There is no ceiling on the number of launches that the Pentagon can order in Phase 2, but Roper expects about 32 missions. Funding for those missions will be distributed in future task orders.

The NSSL Phase 2 award moves the U.S. military one step closer to eliminating its dependence on the Russian RD-180 engine, which is used in ULA's Atlas V rocket. The Defense Department has until 2022 to stop RD-180 procurement, and Roper said he was confident was on “a low risk path” to ensure it will meet that deadline.

For the Phase 2 SpaceX offered the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy, which are both certified and in use. ULA proposed a new rocket, the Vulcan Centaur, which is under development and expected to make its maiden flight in 2021.

“Vulcan Centaur is the right choice for critical national security space missions and was purpose built to meet all of the requirements of our nation's space launch needs,” said Tory Bruno, ULA's president and CEO, said in a statement.

Blue Origin and Northrop Grumman were also in the process of creating new launch systems under a 2018 agreement with the Space and Missile Systems Center. That organization will now work with those companies on how to best halt the government's involvement in that development, Roper said.

“We will tie off the [launch service agreement] contracts as soon as we can, at a point that makes sense,” he said. “We want to make sure that work that's in flux, that we're able to document what the vendors have done. Where the government has rights to the data and the work, we want to make sure we retain them.”

Unless the companies protest the contract award, the next opportunity for Northrop, Blue Origin or other challengers to compete for national security launches is NSSL Phase 3, but the department's approach and timeline for that effort is still being determined.

“If funding were available for a Phase 3 launch service agreement, there's no prohibition on how early we could start Phase 3,” said Roper, who added that studies have shown “some strategic benefits for doing that sooner rather than later.”

https://www.defensenews.com/space/2020/08/07/after-a-hard-fought-competition-ula-and-spacex-to-remain-militarys-rocket-launch-providers/

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    AIR FORCE United Launch Services, Centennial, Colorado, has been awarded a $441,761,778 firm-fixed-price contract, for launch services to deliver the SILENTBARKER, SBIRS GEO-5, and SBIRS GEO-6 missions to their intended orbits. This launch service contract will include launch vehicle production, mission integration, mission launch operations/spaceflight worthiness, and mission unique activities for SILENTBARKER and SBIRS GEO-5, with an option for an additional SBIRS GEO-6 launch service. The locations of performance are Centennial, Colorado; and Cape Canaveral, Florida. SILENTBARKER is expected to be completed by March 2022, SBIRS GEO-5 is expected to be completed by March 2021. This award is the result of a competitive acquisition and two offers were received. Fiscal 2018 and 2019 space procurement funds in the amount of $308,550,970 will be obligated at the time of award. 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Work will be performed in Norfolk, Virginia (84 percent); San Diego, California (5 percent); Pearl Harbor, Hawaii (5 percent); Mayport, Florida (2 percent); Washington, District of Columbia (1 percent); Bahrain (1 percent); Japan (1 percent); and Rota, Spain (1 percent). The base ordering period is expected to be completed by March 2024; if the option is exercised, the ordering period will be completed by August 2024. Fiscal 2019 operations and maintenance (Navy) funds in the amount of $25,000 will be obligated to fund the contract's minimum amount and funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured with the solicitation posted to the Federal Business Opportunities and Navy Electronic Commerce Online websites, with five offers received. Naval Supply Systems Command Fleet Logistics Center Norfolk, Contracting Department Norfolk Office, Norfolk, Virginia, is the contracting activity (N0018919D0004). Vadum Inc.,* Raleigh, North Carolina, is awarded a $9,413,901 cost-plus-fixed-fee, level of effort, research and development contract with a five-year period of performance, to procure engineering support services. Technical instructions will be issued in accordance with the Statement of Work for this contract to support the Reactive Electronic Attack Measures project. Work will be performed in Raleigh, North Carolina, and will be completed by February 2024. Fiscal 2019 research, development, test and evaluation (Navy) funding in the amount of $1,000,000 will be obligated at time of award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured in accordance with 10 U.S. Code 2304(c)(1) - only one responsible source and no other services will satisfy agency requirements. The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division, Crane, Indiana, is the contracting activity (N00164-19-C-WS30). Lockheed Martin, Rotary and Mission Systems, Moorestown, New Jersey, is awarded an $8,242,834 cost-plus-incentive-fee modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-15-C-5151) to exercise options for ship integration and test of the Aegis Weapon System (AWS) for AWS Baselines through Advanced Capability Build 16. Work will be performed in Camden, New Jersey (43 percent); Pascagoula, Mississippi (25 percent); Norfolk, Virginia (12 percent); Everett, Washington (10 percent); Virginia Beach, Virginia (6 percent); San Diego, California (3 percent); and Washington, District of Columbia (1 percent), and is expected to be completed by September 2024. Fiscal 2015 shipbuilding and conversion (Navy); and 2019 other procurement (Navy) funding in the amount of $8,242,834 will be obligated at the time of award. No contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, District of Columbia, is the contracting activity. ARMY T&H Services LLC,* Juneau, Alaska, was awarded a $26,468,671 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for base operations support services. Bids were solicited via the internet with six received. Work will be performed in Fort Carson, Colorado, with an estimated completion date of Feb. 18, 2020. Fiscal 2019 operations and maintenance Army funds in the amount of $5,019,250 were obligated at the time of the award. U.S. Army Mission and Installation Contracting Command, Fort Carson, Colorado, is the contracting activity (W911RZ-19-C-0002). Wood Environment & Infrastructure Solutions Inc., Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, was awarded a $12,000,000 firm-fixed-price contract for hazardous toxic and radiologic waste consulting services. Bids were solicited via the internet with four received. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of Feb. 19, 2024. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Concord, Massachusetts, is the contracting activity (W912WJ-19-D-0002). * Small business https://dod.defense.gov/News/Contracts/Contract-View/Article/1760766/

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