SpaceX’s GPS agreement revised to allow Falcon 9 booster reuse

SpaceX's GPS agreement revised to allow Falcon 9 booster reuse

Gwynn Scottwell: “We’re pleased they see the benefits of technology.”

WASHINGTON – A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch a military GPS satellite with a flying core booster for the first time next year, the U.S. Space Force announced Sept. 25.

The company reached an agreement with the Space and Missile Systems Center earlier this month to allow SpaceX to launch two GPS satellites next year using a flying booster. SMC said it would save the government more than $ 52 million in opening costs.

Although SpaceX regularly recovers and reuses rocket hardware at its commercial and NASA launches, the U.S. military recently began allowing SpaceX to recover booster on GPS missions. The company launched the third vehicle of the GPS 3 star on June 30 with the brand-new Falcon 9 Booster.

The fourth GPS 3 car to launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on September 29 will fly in a new Falcon 9 that will attempt to recover SpaceX. SpaceX will use the previously flown booster to launch the fifth and sixth GPS vehicles next year.

Lt. Gen. John Thompson, commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center, said in a statement, “I am delighted to welcome the innovative reuse of SpaceX in the National Security Space Launch Program.”

In an interview with reporters on September 25, Walt Lauderdale, head of SMC’s Falcon Systems and Operations division, said that revising the contract for the upcoming GPS 3 mission would save the government 52 52.7 million.

Gwynn Shotwell, President and Chief Operating Officer of SpaceX, said in a statement: “We appreciate the investment that the US Space Force has made in the evaluation and we are pleased to see the benefits of the technology.”

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SpaceX’s existing GPS 3 satellite launch deal will expire after 6 p.m. Lockheed Martin is producing four more satellites (7 to 10) but the launches have not yet been awarded. Lauderdale said national missions would be rewarded under the second phase of the National Security Space Launch Program. The United Launch Alliance and SpaceX will compete at the top of all Phase 2 missions.

SMC had earlier planned to launch the second Falcon 9S flight paid for the episode, but decided to start too soon with the current GPS deal.

“This will prepare us for our partnership with SpaceX in the second phase next year,” Lorddale said.

To allow reuse boosters permission and cost savings, SMC delayed the 5th GPS 3 launch from January to July 2021 to allow time for the validity of the design, and “make sure we reassemble the hardware that SpaceX previously flew,” Lauderdale said. Said. “It starts before our second step. We’re going now.”

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