The U.S. Air Force has awarded the contracts for two Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV)-class missions to SpaceX, the first such launches approved for the company.
The two launches will support the DSCOVR (Deep Space Climate Observatory) and STP-2 (Space Test Program 2) missions in 2014 and 2015, respectively. Both missions plan to launch from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.orida.
SpaceX, headed Elon Musk of PayPal and Tesla Motors fame, gained certification for launches under the Air Force’s Orbital/Suborbital Program-3, (OSP-3), which is designed to bring in new companies to the EELV world.
“SpaceX deeply appreciates and is honored by the vote of confidence shown by the Air Force in our Falcon launch vehicles,” said Musk in a statement. “We look forward to providing high reliability access to space with lift capability to orbit that is substantially greater than any other launch vehicle in the world.”
Until now, EELV launches have been handled exclusively by United Launch Alliance, (ULA), a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing.