SpaceX is now certified to operate National Security Space Missions
Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, Air Force Program’s Executive Officer for Space and Commander of the SMC recently announced that certification of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Launch System for space missions that are a matter of national security.
SpaceX can now be awarded national security level space launch missions and is now a part of two such certified providers. Their first opportunity is coming up in June where the air force is going to release a request for proposals for GPS III launch services.
Deborah Lee James, the Secretary of the Air Force said that this was an important milestone as far as both the Air Force & the Department of Defense was concerned. With SpaceX becoming a viable launch provider, they now have the chance to compete for launch services for the 1st time in close to 10 years. And at the end of the day, when the commercial space market is leveraged, it reduces the burden on the American taxpayer & will also help improve the resiliency of the military.
This milestone has been attained as a culmination of two years of effort by SpaceX and the Air Force to try and execute a certification process as well as reintroduce competition into their EELV (Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program). The Air Force has already invested upwards of $ 60 million as well as 150 people in their certification efforts which needed to satisfy one hundred twenty five certification criteria, including three certification flight demonstrations, twenty one major subsystem reviews, 700 audits, 2800 discreet tasks and verifying one hundred and sixty payload interface requirements. All of this was required so that they could establish the technical baseline from where the Air Force was going to determine future flight worthiness.
This certification process provided a path for various launch service providers to show their capability of producing, designing, qualifying and delivering a brand new launch system. Now, the Air Force is confident that national security satellites going into orbit will be able to successfully achieve their intended orbits with full capability.