WASHINGTON — United Launch Alliance did not get the opportunity to compete for the next launch of the Air Force’s X-37B space plane, according to company officials.

Tory Bruno, ULA’s president and chief executive, tweeted June 9 in response to a question that his company didn’t have the chance to bid on the launch contract.


The Air Force announced June 6 that SpaceX won the contract for the fifth launch of the service’s secretive experimental spacecraft, and Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said in congressional testimony the same day that the launch is scheduled for August.

ULA has launched the previous four X-37B missions aboard Atlas 5 rockets.

A spokesperson for the Air Force declined to comment on the contract or the launch, saying that they could not provide details.

ULA confirmed Bruno’s tweet in a statement to SpaceNews.

“ULA did not have the opportunity to bid for the Air Force’s fifth X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV) mission which was recently awarded,” the emailed statement said. “ULA remains fully committed to continuing to support America’s national security missions with world-class launch services.”

Phillip Swarts is the military space reporter for SpaceNews. He previously covered space and advanced technology for Air Force Times, the Justice Department for The Washington Times, and investigative journalism for the Washington Guardian;...