Navigating to Competition

The Air Force issued a draft solicitation to industry for the launch services to place a GPS III navigation satellite into space, and, for the first time in more than a decade, it is inviting more than just the United Launch Alliance to vie for the launch contract. The draft request for proposals “marks a milestone in the Air Force’s ongoing efforts to reintroduce competition into the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program,” states the Space and Missile Systems Center’s May 13 release. “This is the first of nine space launch missions that the Air Force plans to compete in its EELV Phase 1A strategy,” it states. The Air Force is working with SpaceX to certify the company’s Falcon 9 launch vehicle by June for national security space launches. That would allow SpaceX to compete against ULA, provider of Atlas V and Delta IV launch vehicles, to place US military satellites into orbit. “Our intent is to reintroduce competition while maintaining our focus on mission success,” said Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, SMC commander. The Air Force did not specify when the GPS III launch would be. (Read the Air Force’s draft RFP notice.)