U.S. Space Force selects Blue Origin, SpaceX, and United Launch Alliance for National Security Space Launch Phase 3 program

Blue Origin, SpaceX, and United Launch Alliance have been chosen by the U.S. Space Force for the National Security Space Launch Phase 3 launch services program. This decision comes with contracts potentially valued at $5.6 billion over the next five years, as announced by the Pentagon on June 13.

Starting from fiscal year 2025 through 2029, the three companies will compete for orders under the NSSL program. This initiative allows the Space Force to request individual launch missions up to two years in advance, with a minimum of 30 NSSL Lane 1 missions expected to be competed over the next five years.

This Phase 3 contract represents a significant milestone for Blue Origin, as it marks the first time the company, founded by Jeff Bezos, has been selected to launch sensitive national security satellites. In contrast, SpaceX and United Launch Alliance have previously held national security launch contracts under the Phase 2 program that commenced in 2020.

Blue Origin’s New Glenn heavy lift reusable rocket, which has been in development for nearly ten years, is currently undergoing testing and is anticipated to conduct its first orbital flight later this year. The NSSL Phase 3 program is divided into two ‘lanes,’ with Lane 1 catering to less demanding launches to low Earth orbit, and Lane 2 designated for heavy lift rockets capable of delivering payloads to nine reference orbits, including critical national security missions.

The selection of Blue Origin, SpaceX, and United Launch Alliance for Lane 1 contracts confirms that no other launch providers met the specified criteria. The Department of Defense’s announcement revealed that seven bids were submitted for consideration, with the final decision aligning with expectations.


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