The U.S. Air Force has awarded a $130 million firm-fixed-price contract to SpaceX for the launch of its classified AFSPC-52 satellite on a Falcon Heavy rocket.
The satellite will launch in 2020 from the Baikonur space center of a name Kennedy in Florida. The company is the prime contractor on a NASA project called the Space Launch System (SLS) that would enable exploratory missions into deep space. The launch will cost the United States government about $130 million, according to a statement by the USAF. The end result was a settlement and SpaceX receiving certification for launches.
The Lockheed Martin and Boeing joint venture previously had a monopoly on the Air Force program meant to launch sensitive payloads into space. The rocket comprises three Falcon 9 rocket cores, and is capable of more than 5 million pounds of thrust at liftoff. According to the publication Spacenews, this is the first military contract for SpaceX Falcon Heavy.
SpaceX just received a $130M contract to launch an Air Force satellite with their Falcon Heavy rocket.
If the SpaceX military mission is successful, the Falcon Heavy "could displace ULA's Delta IV simply on cost grounds", the media outlet reports, citing industry sources. These launch service contract awards strike a balance between meeting operational needs and lowering launch costs through reintroducing competition for National Security Space missions. It sees the company provide a total launch solution with the launch happening at some point in 2020 from Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Its $130 million cost is approximately one-third to one-half the cost of its proven competitor in this capacity, the Delta IV Heavy.
By January of 2015, Musk had settled his dispute with the Air Force, and later that year the Falcon rocket was certified to compete with ULA rockets for government contracts.