EELV Launch Service agreements signed by U.S. Air Force with three domestic companies

WASHINGTON. The U.S. Air Force announced the award of three Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) Launch Service Agreements: to Blue Origin, Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems, and United Launch Alliance.

The award to Blue Origin will be for development of the New Glenn Launch System, the award to Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems is earmarked for development of the OmegA Launch System, while the United Launch Alliance award will go toward development of the Vulcan Centaur Launch System.

These recent Launch Service Agreements, say Air Force officials, will facilitate the development of three domestic launch system prototypes and enable the future competitive selection of two national security space launch service providers for future procurements, planned for no earlier than fiscal year 2020. The goal of this acquisition strategy is to mount public-private partnership agreements while satisfying federal law by ensuring that the U.S. maintains assured access to space, with at least two domestic launch service providers, and without reliance on nonallied rocket-propulsion systems.

"Our launch program is a great example of how we are fielding tomorrow's Air Force faster and smarter," said Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson. “We're making the most of the authorities Congress gave us and we will no longer be reliant on the Russian-built RD-180 rocket engine.

"Leveraging domestic commercial space launch systems is good for the Air Force, and a revitalized commercial launch industry is good for the taxpayer," Wilson added.