Main Engine Cut Off

SpaceX Wins GPS III Launch, More Info on Phase 1A

Phillip Swarts for SpaceNews:

SpaceX won the contract for the first GPS 3 launch with a bid of $82.7 million. The winning bid for the second launch was $96.5 million. SpaceNews has contacted SpaceX for an explanation on the price increase.

Leon said she suspected that it was due to company “becoming more familiar with the requirements of the Air Force,” and likely adjusting their bid to better meet the service’s strict “mission success requirements.”

I’m not surprised to see rising prices—after all, you don’t have to outrun the bear, just the ones you’re running alongside.

The other launches planned for Phase 1A include communications satellites, the Air Force’s missile-warning SBIRS constellation, and launches for the National Reconnaissance Office.

The requirements for those launches will be different than GPS, Leon said, because “some missions are more stressing than others.”

The first two of Phase 1A’s fifteen launches went SpaceX’s way, but ULA has the home-field advantage when it comes to SBIRS and NRO satellites.

On the importance of Falcon Heavy’s upcoming demo mission:

SpaceX, however, will need to roll out its next rocket if it wants to win some of the launches.

“They will need the Falcon Heavy for some of those competitions,” Leon said. “They need to get a demo flight off at least to be competitive for some of those missions.”