The Space Development Agency under the U.S. Department of Defense has awarded SpaceX a $150 million launch contract for two flights from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The first launch under the newly awarded contract is set for September 2022, and the second flight will take place not later than March 2023. Here’s the full announcement from the SDA:

Space Exploration Technologies Inc. (SpaceX), Hawthorne, California, has been awarded a $150,450,000 firm-fixed-price contract for launch services from Vandenberg Air Force Base for the Space Development Agency’s Tranche 0 Transport and Tracking Layer space vehicles. This award was made based on the Tranche 0 Launch request for proposal (HQ085021R0001) released Oct. 6, 2020, to which responses were due Nov. 9, 2020.

SpaceX will provide standalone launch services via two launches, with the first launch occurring in September 2022, and the entire constellation on orbit no later than March 31, 2023. Work will be performed in Hawthorne, California; Vandenberg AFB, California; and McGregor, Texas. Fiscal 2020 and 2021 defense-wide research, development, test and evaluation funds will be obligated at the time of award. The Space Development Agency, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity (HQ085021C0005).

Space Development Agency

There’s a reason SpaceX’s Space Development Agency contract may sound familiar.

Both SpaceX and Florida-based L3Harris were awarded SDA contracts to develop four missile tracking satellites each in October, but protests by Raytheon and Airbus are currently holding up those contracts.

If approved, SpaceX will earn an additional $149 million for developing four low-cost proliferated Wide Field of View space vehicles that will provide “missile warning and tracking information to national defense authorities, and tracking and cueing data for missile defense elements,” according to SDA.

Separately, L3Harris is set to earn $193 million for developing its own four WFOV space vehicles, completing the Space Development Agency’s initial set of eight Wide Field of View space vehicles. SpaceX and L3Harris will develop their own space vehicles independently, but both systems will need to interface compatibly.

While the status of the space vehicle development contract is still being processed, what we learned today is that SpaceX will be the launch provider for the two rocket launches related to the SDA program.

Top image: SpaceX Falcon 9 Sentinel-6 mission launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in CA

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