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Startups Not Yet Ready for Space Force National Security Space Launch Program

NSSL Phase 3 acquisition

Startups Not Yet Ready for Space Force National Security Space Launch Program

Major players in the space industry will most likely be awarded contracts under the two-lane approach introduced by the U.S. Space Force to encourage competition between emerging companies and industry leaders for phase 3 of the National Security Space Launch program, at least initially.

Under the two lane-system, which is a response to congressional calls for a more competitive NSSL program, Lane 2 would feature more critical launch missions while Lane 1 would feature easier, more risk-tolerant missions. Lane 1 missions were meant to attract participation from emerging space companies, although established companies would be allowed to compete there as well.

Unfortunately, industry experts do not expect emerging space companies to have rockets ready for several more years. Furthermore, in order for an emerging company to be able to bid for Lane 1 contracts, they must have a rocket that would be ready for launch within a year, and in order for the company to win at all, their rocket must have already sent a customer’s satellite into orbit.

So for the time being, Lane 1 missions will likely see bids from major players. Maj. Gen. Stephen Purdy, who runs the NSSL program at Space Systems Command, said smaller companies could join the competition once they have their rockets ready.

The Space Force expects to begin awarding Lane 1 contracts by 2029, potentially continuing for another five years, Defense One reported.

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Category: Space

Tags: Defense One Department of Defense National Space Security Launch space Stephen Purdy US Space Force