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Space Force Seeks More Providers for Next National Security Space Launch Acquisition

Space launch services

Space Force Seeks More Providers for Next National Security Space Launch Acquisition

The U.S. Space Force expects the next phase of major National Security Space Launch contracts to increase in scope because of a strong demand for military lift services.

According to Maj. Gen. Stephen Purdy, program executive for assured access to space and the commander of Space Launch Delta 45, the service is looking at expanding the number of launch providers under NSSL Phase 3 to meet the anticipated demand growth. Purdy, who will speak at an upcoming Potomac Officers Club event, shared that the Space Force is looking at a two-lane approach for Phase 3, which would establish two launch provider groups: one for commercial-like missions and another for national security missions.

According to Purdy, the first lane is designated for small launches and commercial-like missions. It will accommodate “an unlimited number of providers,” and the service will offer annual opportunities for new companies to compete for launch contracts without the need to meet certification requirements. Lane 2 will be for national security missions with unique requirements. It will be limited to two companies certified to fly military missions.

Orders for Lane 1 will start in the fiscal year 2025 and will continue through FY 2034 while orders for Lane 2 will open in the fiscal 2025 and run through FY 2029.

The Space Force issued a draft solicitation on Feb. 16 for NSSL Phase 3 and plans to issue a formal call for proposals in the summer, C4ISRNET reported.

The strategy is in line with legislative efforts to push the Space Force to spur more competition for national security launches. Lawmakers included provisions in the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act requiring the Space Force to develop a Phase 3 acquisition strategy that includes commercial launches.

The Space Force awarded the five-year, multimillion-dollar NSSL Phase 2 contract to United Launch Alliance and SpaceX in 2020. ULA received $337 million while SpaceX received $316 million to support over 30 heavy-lift launches planned through FY 2027.

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Tags: C4ISRNET National Security Space Launch Speaker News Stephen Purdy US Space Force