Elon Musk’s SpaceX has secured a contract worth $82.7 million for launching U.S. Air Force’s next-generation GPS satellite.
With this, SpaceX has also managed to break Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) and Boeing Co.’s (BA.N) decade-long monopoly over military space launches.
Supposed to be launched in 2018 from Florida, this deal has put a full stop to exclusive relationships between the U.S. military and ULA (United Launch Alliance).
Although ULA did not compete for this project citing various reasons viz. accounting issues and trade policy restraints regarding the import of Russian rocket engines; SpaceX’s modest pricing policy is believed to be another primary reason for non-participation.
For $82.7 million, the contract demands spacecraft integrations, launch operations, spaceflight certification along with the production of a Falcon 9 rocket.
Established in 2002, Space Exploration Technologies was started with an intention of accommodating low-cost launch missions to Mars.
Meanwhile, Lieutenant General Samuel Greaves, Head of Air Force’s Space and Missile System Center said ‘This GPS Launch contract achieves a balance between mission success, meeting operational needs, lowering launch costs and reintroducing competition for National Security Space missions.’
It is imperative to mention that SpaceX was earlier blocked to bid for such projects. It filed a federal lawsuit challenging the rules that prohibited the company. The case was settled outside the court with SpaceX winning rights to bid for future launches.