U.S. Air Force awards GPS III launch services contract

March 14, 2018  - By
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The U.S. Air Force has awarded a GPS III satellite launch contract to SpaceX. This is the third GPS III launch contract awarded; the previous two also were awarded to SpaceX.

SpaceX will receive a $290,594,130 firm-fixed-price contract for launch services to deliver three GPS III missions (1 base and 2 options) to the intended orbit using two Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles (EELVs).

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, Jan. 14, 2017. (Photo: SpaceX)

The launch contract provides the government with a total launch solution for the GPS III mission, including launch vehicle production, mission integration, launch operations and spaceflight certification. The launches will take place from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station or Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

The GPS III missions are planned to launch between late 2019 and 2020.

“The three GPS III missions will deliver sustained, reliable GPS capabilities to America’s warfighters, our allies and civil users,” the U.S. Air Force said in a statement. GPS provides positioning, navigation and timing service to civil and military users worldwide.

In a second launch services contract, United Launch Alliance has been awarded a $351,839,510 firm-fixed-price contract for launch services to deliver Air Force Space Command (AFSPC)-8 and AFSPC-12 satellites to the intended orbit.

This is the fourth competition under the current Phase 1A procurement strategy. Both launch service contract awards strike a balance between meeting operational needs and lowering launch costs through reintroducing competition for National Security Space missions, according to Los Angeles Air Force Base, which made the announcement.

“The competitive award of these two EELV launch service contracts directly supports Space and Missile Systems Center’s mission of delivering resilient and affordable space capabilities to our nation while maintaining assured access to space,” said Lt. Gen. John F. Thompson, U.S. Air Force Program Executive Officer for Space and SMC commander.

SpaceX won two previous GPS III launch contracts, one awarded in March 2017 and one in April 2016.

About the Author:


Tracy Cozzens has served as managing editor of GPS World magazine since 2006, and also is editor of GPS World’s sister website, Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.

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