HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — ABL Space Systems Corp, Astra Space and Relativity Space will join a pool of launch providers that are eligible to compete for missions awarded under the U.S. Space Force Orbital Services Program (OSP)-4.

The addition of the three companies was announced Aug. 9 by the Space and Missile Systems Center’s Rocket Systems Launch Program Office based at Kirtland Air Force Base, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

OSP-4 is an indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract for rapid acquisition of launch services. Vendors compete for individual orders, and have to be able to launch payloads larger than 400 pounds to any orbit within 12 to 24 months from contract award.  

The OSP-4 contract vehicle was created in October 2019 and eight companies were selected then: Aevum, Firefly, Northrop Grumman, Rocket Lab, SpaceX., United Launch Alliance, VOX Space, and X-Bow Launch. 

There are now 11 vendors in the program that will compete for 20 missions over the next nine years. OSP-4 is authorized up to $986 million for launch contracts over that period.

“We use this IDIQ contract to continue to introduce speed, agility, and flexibility into the launch enterprise and continue to cultivate a resilient and affordable launch market,” said Lt. Col. Justin Beltz, chief of SMC’s Small Launch and Targets division.           

The U.S. Space Force previously awarded two contracts on OSP-4 with the Space Test Program-S28 mission to VOX Space and Tactically Responsive Launch-2 mission to Northrop Grumman.

SMC’s Launch Enterprise expects to award the next task order in support of the Space Test Program’s USSF-46S mission later this summer.

ABL expects to launch is RS1 rocket for the first time later this year. Under a Defense Innovation Unit contract, Astra plans to launch a test payload for the U.S. Space Force on its next attempt to reach orbit in August.

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...