WASHINGTON — U.S. Air Force Space Command will send a new military satellite into space in 2020 with the help of SpaceX.
The AFSC’s Space and Missile Systems Center announced Friday a $130 million contract with the rocket design and manufacturing company.
The relatively low-cost price tag secured the deal for SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket, beating out main rival United Launch Alliance (composed of Boeing and Lockheed Martin) by tens of millions of dollars and earning praise from the Air Force.
Lt. Gen. John Thompson, program executive officer for the Space and Missile Systems Center, approved the contract, saying it “directly supports [the Center’s] mission of delivering resilient and affordable space capabilities to our nation while maintaining assured access to space.”
The agreement for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle service contract includes “launch vehicle production, mission integration and launch operations” from SpaceX, according to a news release.
The Heavy Falcon can deliver a payload of 70 tons to low-Earth orbit.
SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell highlighted the price savings in a statement, saying her company’s services offer “the American taxpayer the most cost-effective” and “reliable” services for national space missions.