The Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC), in partnership with the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), awarded a sole source, five-year, $1.18 billion Firm-Fixed-Price (FFP) modification of the Delta IV Heavy contract (FA8811-19-C-0002), saving $455 million. 

This modification was awarded Sept. 27 to United Launch Alliance (ULA) for Launch Operations Support (LOPS), in support of five NRO Launch (NROL) missions: NROL-44, NROL-82, NROL-91, NROL-68 and NROL-70. 

To meet required launch dates while maintaining the best value for the Government, SMC and NRO divided this contract into a Launch Vehicle Production Services (LVPS) component and a LOPS component. 

The contract awarded LVPS to ULA for three NRO Launch (NROL) missions: NROL-91, NROL-68, and NROL-70, on Oct. 24, 2018. This LOPS contract modification will deliver the critical and required launch operations support necessary to launch five NRO missions: the aforementioned three missions, plus NROL-44 and NROL-82. LOPS is separate and distinct from LVPS. LVPS covers materials and manufacturing labor needed to produce the launch vehicles, whereas LOPS covers launch pad maintenance, and range support at Vandenberg AFB and Cape Canaveral AFS, launch vehicle propellants, satellite encapsulation, and the system engineers and technicians that support production and launch operations.

“The Space and Missile Systems Center, with our NRO teammates, delivers outstanding space capabilities for the nation. We have full confidence that ULA’s Delta IV Heavy launch vehicles will continue their impressive history of mission success to launch key assets necessary for national security,” said Brig. Gen. Donna Shipton, Air Force program executive officer for Space Enterprise.

“Mission success is our top priority. These satellites are critical to our Intelligence Community and national security. Finalizing the launch operations support for these Delta IV Heavy launch services is a fundamental step to deliver these critical national assets to their intended orbits,” said Col. Robert Bongiovi, Director of Launch Enterprise. “These are the last remnants of our sole source contracts. We look forward to embracing the competitive landscape that we have worked hard with industry to create. The competitive launch services market is strong, and we look forward to the Phase 2 acquisition that leverages this market and builds upon our legacy of mission success,” he added.

LVPS for NROL-44 and NROL-82 were procured in FY17 under the Phase 1 Block Buy contract (FA8811-13-C-0003).