SpaceX and Orbital ATK have both been awarded United States Air Force contracts to develop rocket propulsion system prototypes, the United States Department of Defense announced in its Thursday publication of military deals.
The contracts are part of an effort to wean the military from its propensity for using the Russian-developed RD-180 engine.
Worth $46.9 million, the contract given to Orbital ATK tasks the company with developing three rocket propulsion system prototypes for the Air Force’s Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program. Orbital ATK will initially contribute $31.1 million toward the work, but could invest as much as $124.8 million if various options are exercised. The U.S. government could contribute as much as $180.2 million, also if various options are exercised.
Under the deal, Orbital ATK will produce prototypes for the GEM 63XL strap-on solid rocket motor, the Common Booster Segment solid rocket motor, and an Extendable Nozzle for Blue Origin’s BE-3U upper stage engine, all of which would be used on a future Orbital ATK launch vehicle. The labor conducted by the company will be take place in Magna, Utah; Luka, Miss; Chandler, Ariz; and at Los Angeles Air Force Base. The work should be finished by Dec. 30, 2019.
The contract given to SpaceX is worth $33.6 million, and tasks the company with creating a Raptor rocket propulsion system prototype, also for the EELV program. The engine will go into SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launch vehicles. SpaceX will invest $67.3 million at the time of the initial award, but could invest a total of $122.7 million if related options are exercised. The most the government will possibly invest in the work is $61.3.
SpaceX will conduct the work at NASA Stennis Space Center, Miss. and Los Angeles Air Force Base. The labor should be finished by Dec. 31, 2018.
Both of the contracts are other transaction agreements, which the DoD said it provided as opposed to standard procurement contracts “in order to leverage on-going investment by industry in rocket propulsion systems.”
Filed Under: Aerospace + defense