The Pentagon announced Aug. 7 that it will stick with ULA and SpaceX as its main launch providers through 2027. Credit: SpaceNews graphic

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Space Force awarded United Launch Alliance and SpaceX contracts for four National Security Space Launch Phase 2 missions scheduled for 2023, the Pentagon announced March 9.

ULA received $224. 2 million for two missions named USSF-112 and USSF-87.  SpaceX got $159.7 million for USSF-36 and NROL-69. The SpaceX contract for the NROL-69 National Reconnaissance Office mission only includes basic launch services. The NRO will fund its mission integration separately.

ULA and SpaceX were selected in August as the two launch providers for Phase 2 of the National Security Space Launch program. ULA won 60% and SpaceX 40% of the estimated 30 to 35 launches projected between 2022 and 2027. The contracts are fixed-price and funded on a yearly basis based on demand. NSSL launches include Defense Department and NRO missions.

The Space Force in August awarded the first three missions of Phase 2 scheduled to launch in 2022.

ULA got $337 million to launch two missions and SpaceX received $316 million contract for one mission. SpaceX explained the large price tag included expenses for infrastructure and other hardware development required for national security launches. 

“We are very pleased with the flexibility offered by our Phase 2 providers to make the best launch choices and adjustments as we proceed,” said Col. Robert Bongiovi, director of the Space and Missile Systems Center Launch Enterprise.

USSF-36 has a scheduled launch date in the second quarter of fiscal year 2023, NROL-69 in the fourth quarter, USSF-112 in the third quarter and USSF-87 in the fourth quarter.

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...