Congrats to SpaceX & United Launch Alliance
Updated: Aug 21, 2020
It’s been some time since United Launch Alliance and SpaceX both won a little over $300 million dollars each to launch military payloads for the U.S. Space Force’s National Security Space Launch program. I wasn’t that surprised given United Launch Alliance and SpaceX have been notable for their Atlas and Falcon rockets’ reliability and their commitment to ensure mission success.
While Blue Origin and Northrop Grumman lost out on the NSSL Phase 2 contracts, I’m proud of them for trying their hardest to prove they can support the U.S. national security. However, I can’t say whether I have high hopes for Blue Origin and/or Northrop Grumman taking another shot next time. Not that I dislike both companies; I am intrigued by Blue Origin’s rocket reusability route as well as Northrop Grumman’s OmegA rocket design.
Also, for SpaceX to construct a brand-new Mobile Service Structure at Launch Complex 39A sounds amazing. After all, the NRO and U.S. Space Force requires their payloads to be vertically integrated, so there’s no worry about doing it in a distant facility and bringing the payload in its fairing to the Horizontal Integration Facility. Also, very clever of SpaceX to make a stretched fairing; makes sense for certain payload that are too big for the typical short fairing.
For United Launch Alliance, their upcoming Vulcan rocket has great potential just as much as SpaceX’s Falcon launch vehicles do. Even though ULA doesn’t specialize in reusability, they use flight-proven technology such as their Centaur upper stage and its RL-10 engines; they date back to the 1960s when the Atlas-Centaur rockets began to fly.
Overall, I’m excited to see United Launch Alliance and SpaceX continue to serve the U.S. Space Force and the government’s other military branches, but on a more frequent basis this time around. Go SpaceX and Go ULA!