The U.S. Space Force has signed a contract modification that allows SpaceX to recover and reuse the first-stage booster of the Falcon 9 rocket for future missions under the National Security Space Launch program.
The contract modification with the service branch's Space and Missile Systems Center Launch Enterprise enables SpaceX to use the recovered Falcon 9 boosters to launch the fifth GPS III satellite, which is slated for liftoff in 2021, the Air Force said Friday.
“SpaceX is proud to leverage Falcon 9's flight-proven benefits and capabilities for national security space launch missions,“ said Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief operating officer of SpaceX and a three-time Wash100 awardee. “We appreciate the effort that the U.S. Space Force invested into the evaluation and are pleased that they see the benefits of the technology.“
Walt Lauderdale, Falcon systems and operations division chief at SMC, said SMC expects the upcoming GPS III missions to generate approximately $52.7M in savings through the contract modification, which also covers the launch of the GPS III-SV06 satellite.
SpaceX will recover the booster that will be used to launch the fourth GPS III satellite, GPS III-SV04, on Sept. 29, Tuesday.