The United States Space Force (USSF) has confirmed the selection of Elon Musk’s SpaceX to recover the first stage booster and, for the first time on a National Security Space Launch (NSSL) mission, launch previously flown boosters on future GPS missions.
SpaceX was also recently selected by the Space Force to carry out critical National Security Space Launch (NSSL) missions ordered over the next five years. SpaceX will build upon its years-long collaboration with the US Air Force and the National Reconnaissance Office to utilise the operationally mature Falcon fleet, which has achieved NSSL certification and completed a combined 95 orbital missions to date for a variety of customers.
With Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy, SpaceX is capable of performing every type of national security space mission, to every required reference orbit, with significant performance and schedule margin.
To meet or exceed the demanding and unique requirements of the NSSL program, SpaceX invested over a billion dollars of its own money into the Falcon fleet and the associated ground infrastructure, manufacturing processes, payload integration procedures, and mission assurance processes.
This private investment over multiple years reflects SpaceX’s deep commitment to reliably launching our customers' payloads to orbit. And, as SpaceX brought competition back to NSSL, the USAF saved billions in critical taxpayer funds.
The SpaceX statement said, "SpaceX is honoured to support the United States Space Force with a solution given the highest possible rating for system capability, schedule readiness, and system risk, using a mix of new and flight-proven launch vehicles.
"We look forward to leveraging this extensive capability to continue delivering the country’s most reliable and affordable launch services for years to come."
Falcon 9 is a reusable, two-stage rocket designed and manufactured by SpaceX for the reliable and safe transport of people and payloads into Earth orbit and beyond. It is the world’s first orbital-class reusable rocket.
Reusability allows SpaceX to re-fly the most expensive parts of the rocket, which in turn drives down the cost of space access.
Falcon Heavy is the most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two. With the ability to lift into orbit nearly 64 tonnes, Falcon Heavy can lift more than twice the payload of the next closest operational vehicle, the Delta IV Heavy.
SpaceX's Falcon Heavy is composed of three Falcon 9 nine-engine cores whose 27 Merlin engines together generate more than 5 million pounds of thrust at lift-off, equal to approximately 18 Boeing 747 aircraft.
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