WASHINGTON — The U.S. Space Force has added Blue Origin and Stoke Space Technologies to its roster of launch providers eligible to compete for short-turnaround small-satellite missions under the Orbital Services Program-4 (OSP-4) contract. 

OSP-4, an Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract, was established by the Air Force in 2019 to leverage emerging commercial launch capabilities. IDIQ contracts allow for an indefinite quantity of supplies or services during a fixed period, with the government placing orders as needs arise.

The Space Force’s small launch division at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has awarded seven missions to date using the OSP-4 contract, totaling over $190 million. The program focuses on missions with payloads of 400 pounds or greater, requiring providers to be launch-ready within 12 to 24 months from task order award. The overall IDIQ contract has a $986 million ceiling through October 2028.

Blue Origin’s inclusion in OSP-4 comes shortly after its selection for the National Security Space Launch Phase 3 Lane 1 procurement, suggesting the Space Force anticipates the company’s New Glenn rocket to begin payload launches within the next year.

Stoke Space, a newer entrant, recently conducted the first hot-fire test of its reusable rocket engine. The company is targeting its first orbital test launch for 2025.

Lt. Col. Steve Hendershot, who oversees the Space Force’s small launch procurements, said July 3 in a news release that the addition of these emerging providers “preserves, stimulates, and enhances the small launch industrial base and yields the Space Force a diverse vendor pool to support the nation’s defense. We are excited to add Blue Origin and Stoke Space as the newest providers on the OSP-4 contract.”

Hendershot emphasized that the small launch program complements the much larger National Security Space Launch program, “providing access to a wide range of solutions that may not be available through other programs.”

Blue Origin and Stoke Space join 10 other launch providers on the OSP-4 contract: ABL Space Systems, Aevum, Astra, Firefly Aerospace, Northrop Grumman, Relativity Space, Rocket Lab, SpaceX, United Launch Alliance and X-Bow. 

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...