SpaceX may soon tackle some of the US government’s high-priority satellite missions, and Bloomberg reports that the Space Force has secured SpaceX’s license to launch top-secret spy satellites using Falcon Heavy rockets equipped with reusable boosters.
The move gives SpaceX more high-profile government tasks, of course, but it also promises to save federal money by reducing the costs of moving these satellites into orbit, Digitartlends reports.
The Space Force has already saved more than $64 million for GPS missions using reusable Falcon 9 rockets, said Walter Lauderdale, Falcon Chief of Space Systems Command.
The Space Force issued the certification in June, but has not announced approval yet. SpaceX can carry spy satellites aboard Falcon 9 rockets, but they don’t always have the power for heavy payloads.
The first launch of the Falcon Heavy-based rocket is expected sometime between October and December, when SpaceX will deliver a satellite to the National Reconnaissance Office.
This could represent a major if temporary blow to competing missile producers. Boeing and Lockheed-Martin’s United Launch Alliance have not yet received similar approval for a version of the Vulcan rocket using Blue Origin engines.
Air Force officials are still reviewing the approach for 39 national security launches scheduled for the 2025-2027 fiscal period. SpaceX does not guarantee that business that would otherwise have gone to ULA will win, but its prior certification can influence any decisions.
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