SpaceX National security satellites can now be launched with used missiles.
Elon Musk has just signed a contract amendment with the US Space Force to allow the use of two incoming GPS satellites Falcon 9 boosters With the first stages of pre-discharging. Space Force officials said this was the first of its kind for a national security payload, and it would save US taxpayers roughly $ 53 million across the two flights.
“SpaceX is proud to take advantage of the advantages and capabilities of Falcon 9, which has proven itself in space launch missions for national security,” said Gwen Shotwell, SpaceX’s president and chief operating officer, in a statement emailed to the Space Force today (25 September).
“We appreciate the effort that the US Space Force invested in the assessment and are pleased that they see the benefits of the technology,” said Shotwell. “Our extensive reuse experience has allowed SpaceX to continually update the fleet and save substantial valuable tax money on these launches.”
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SpaceX routinely lands and relaunches the first stages of the workforce, the two-stage Falcon 9 Falcon Heavy, Which has only been launched three times so far, can be similarly reused. (Falcon Heavy is essentially the first three stages of the Falcon 9 tied together, with a modified central boost topped by a second stage.)
Today’s announcement marks another step in space power’s increasing acceptance of reusable rocket technology. The Military Branch Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) previously signed contract modifications to allow SpaceX to land the first stages of the Falcon 9 during GPS launch.
The company did exactly that on GPS mission III-SV03 last June, And plans to do so again for GPS III-SV04, which is scheduled for launch next Tuesday (September 29).
New node modifications for GPS III-SV05 and GPS III-SV06 satellites allow to ride over the Falcon 9s with pre-phases, which will again land on the ground after their work ends in the upward direction. These two operations are due to be launched sometime next year.
Walt Lauderdale, Head of Falcon Systems and Operations at SMC and Recurring Task Manager, said in the same statement: “SMC’s commitment to innovative partnerships and work with the commercial sector while maintaining our mission guarantee status and mission success record cannot be understated.”
“I am proud of our partnership with SpaceX that has allowed us to successfully negotiate contract modifications for upcoming GPS III missions that will save taxpayers $ 52.7 million while maintaining our unprecedented record of success,” said Lauderdale.
Mike Wall is the author of “Out There” (Great Publishing House, 2018; drawn by Carl Tate), a book on the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.