Space Force identifies national security launches funded in 2022 and 2023

Of the eight missions to be launched over the next two years, five were assigned to United Launch Alliance and three to SpaceX

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Space Systems Command has identified which eight national security space launches were funded in fiscal years 2022 and 2023.

Of the eight missions, five were assigned to United Launch Alliance and three to SpaceX, the two companies that in 2020 won the National Security Space Launch (NSSL) Phase 2 launch services procurement contract, with ULA winning 60% and SpaceX 40% of the missions over five years. 

Missions assigned to United Launch Alliance:

  • The seventh GPS 3 satellite, or GPS-3 SV-7. SpaceX has launched four of the five GPS 3 satellites currently in orbit. GPS 3 SV-7 will launch on a Vulcan Centaur rocket from the Eastern Range into a medium Earth transfer orbit. 
  • USSF-16, USSF-23 and USSF-43: All classified missions to be launched on Vulcan Centaur rockets from the Eastern Range. 
  • WGS-11+: The Wideband Global Satcom (WGS-11) military communications satellite will launch on a Vulcan Centaur from the Eastern Range into a geosynchronous transfer orbit. 

Missions assigned to SpaceX: 

  • USSF-124: A U.S. Space Force and Missile Defense Agency mission to be launched on a Falcon 9 rocket from the Eastern Range into low Earth orbit. 
  • USSF-62: This mission includes the first military Weather System Follow-on (WSF) satellite to be launched on a Falcon 9 rocket from the Western Range into a polar orbit.
  • SDA Tranche 1: A batch of small satellites for the Space Development Agency’s Tranche 1 Transport Layer constellation of communications satellites. This mission will launch on a Falcon 9 rocket from the Western Range into a polar orbit. It will be the first of six planned Tranche 1 missions to be launched by SDA.

The Space Systems Command in a May 26 news release said the eight missions are projected to launch over the next two years but did not specify timelines. ULA’s Vulcan Centaur has not yet flown but the command expects the vehicle to be ready for these upcoming missions. “ULA and SpaceX have highly capable launch systems and we have full confidence that they will meet our needs for the eight missions we ordered today,” said Col. Chad Melone, chief of launch procurement.

The Space Systems Command did not disclose the individual prices for launch services for each of the eight missions. For previous NSSL Phase 2 missions, specific contract values were made public. The command awarded seven Phase 2 missions between August 2020 and March 2021: Four were assigned to United Launch Alliance for $561.1 million and three to SpaceX for $475.7 million.

DoD budget documents only include aggregate prices for launch services and launch service support based on Phase 2 average contract pricing for both providers.

The five launches funded in fiscal year 2022 average $159 million each. The three launches funded in fiscal year 2023 average $181 million each.

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