ULA won’t bid on GPS III launch contract

November 17, 2015  - By
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Image: GPS World

The United Launch Alliance (ULA) declined Nov. 16 to submit a bid to launch the GPS III satellite, leaving the field wide open for commercial launch service SpaceX, reports Space News.

The first GPS III satellite is expected to launch in 2018.

SpaceX is likely to win the U.S. Air Force launch contract by default.

Every operational GPS mission has launched on a ULA or heritage rocket — the most recent being the GPS IIF-11, which launched on Oct. 31.

ULA said it did not submit a bid in part because it does not expect to have an Atlas 5 rocket available for the mission, according to Space News. Legislation passed by Congress in 2014 requires the Air force to phase out its use of the Russian-made RD-180 engine that powers the Atlas 5 rocket used by ULA.

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