Let Us Launch Cheaper

Rocket builder SpaceX completed its three certification launches required to boost Air Force payloads into orbit and is awaiting final Air Force technical certification, company CEO Elon Musk told lawmakers. “SpaceX is ready now to compete with our Falcon 9,” Musk told the Senate Appropriations Committee’s defense panel on March 5. “The Air Force and other agencies are paying too high a price for launch” and should quickly complete certification to allow the company to introduce competition into the market, he said. The Air Force has committed to competitively bidding 14 Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle missions between Fiscal 2015 and Fiscal 2017, including five in the next year, said Musk. “We would have greatly preferred that the Air Force open all of its missions for competition, and now we have serious concerns that it may not be the case that five missions will be openly competed this year,” he said. Musk said SpaceX could have saved taxpayers $11.6 billion on the last EELV block purchase, had bidding been open. (Musk’s written statement)