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Pentagon inspector general to look at SpaceX launch certification

February 12, 2019  - By
(Photo: SpaceX)

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, Jan. 14. (Photo: SpaceX)

Starting this month, the inspector general for the U.S. Pentagon will be reviewing how SpaceX’s rockets became certified to launch payloads for the U.S. Air Force, a decision made in May 2015.

“Our objective is to determine whether the U.S. Air Force complied with the Launch Services New Entrant Certification Guide when certifying the launch system design for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle-class SpaceX Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launch vehicles,” wrote Michael J. Roark, deputy inspector general for Intelligence and Special Program Assessments, in a Feb. 11 memorandum to the Air Force.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carried the first GPS III satellite into orbit on Dec. 23, 2018.

In April 2016, the U.S. Air Force awarded SpaceX the first competitively sourced National Security Space (NSS) launch services contract in more than a decade, when the company won the GPS III Launch Services contract, fixed at $82,700,000.

Less than one year later, SpaceX was awarded a second contract for launch services to deliver a GPS III satellite to its intended orbit.

The evaluation will be performed at the Space and Missile Systems Center, a unit of Air Force Space Command, headquartered at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, California. Additional locations may also be identified as part of the audit.