Air Force releases proposal request for the Phase 2 Launch Service Procurement Contract

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The Space and Missile Systems Center, in partnership with the National Reconnaissance Office, released a request for proposals May 3, for the purpose of competitively awarding firm fixed-price, indefinite-delivery requirements contracts to two domestic launch service providers.

These “Launch Service Procurement” contracts are for National Security Space launch service procurements in fiscal year 2020 through 2024 for missions launching through 2027.

This solicitation strategy is a full and open competition allowing companies to compete for procurement contracts regardless of whether they have a current Launch Service Agreement development contract.

“We must move forward now. We are answering Congress’ 2014 directive to transition off the Russian-made RD-180 rocket engine,” said Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson. “The industrial base is ready and we will keep our most demanding National Security Space orbits on track.”

The competitive process will provide the Air Force and other agencies assured access to space. It leverages investment and prototypes developed under the Rocket Propulsion Systems agreements and Launch Service Agreement development efforts to end reliance on the Russian RD-180 engine.

“This strategy harnesses the commercial launch industry to meet the more demanding National Security Space Launch needs” said Dr. William Roper, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. With the Congressional mandate to transition away from reliance on non-allied rocket propulsion systems and the planned Delta IV retirement, the Space and Missile Systems Center developed an acquisition strategy to meet National Security Space launch requirements for the future.

Last year, the Space and Missile Systems Center awarded three developmental Launch Service Agreements to Blue Origin, Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems and United Launch Alliance to ensure their respective launch systems — New Glenn, OmegA and Vulcan — are able to meet the more stressing National Security Space requirements. In addition, the Air Force also competitively awarded nine launch services to SpaceX using their Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launch vehicles over the last two years and SpaceX successfully launched the first of those nine missions on Dec. 23, 2018.

Air Force Space Command’s Space and Missile Systems Center, located at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif., is the Air Force’s center of acquisition excellence for acquiring and developing military space systems. The Center’s portfolio includes GPS, Military Satellite Communications, Defense Meteorological Satellites, Space Launch and Range Systems, Satellite Control Networks, Space Based Infrared Systems and Space Situational Awareness capabilities.