The U.S. Air Force is asking industry for feedback on ways to enhance competition in the national security launch market, according to a notice published in the Federal Register May 29.
The feedback is being requested by the deputy undersecretary of the Air Force for space, Richard McKinney, as part of an ongoing strategic National Security Space Launch Assessment.
The notice asks launch companies for information including short- and long-term plans for offering launch services to the Defense Department, any critical issues of concern and recommendations for improving or lowering the cost of launch services.
The Air Force procures launch services under the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program, whose costs have soared in the past several years.
Currently, the Air Force is negotiating the purchase of up to 36 rocket cores over five years from the incumbent EELV contractor, United Launch Alliance of Denver, and plans to competitively award an additional 14 missions to give newcomers such as Space Exploration Technologies Corp. a chance.