Find us on Google+

Orbital ATK, SpaceX Win Air Force Propulsion Contracts

BE3EngineDistant_BO4X3-e1417476472235-879x485

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Air Force said Jan. 13 it has chosen to invest up to $241 million in rocket propulsion systems Orbital ATK and SpaceX pitched as a way to end Air Force dependence the Russian-built rocket engine it uses to launch most U.S. national security payloads.

In a press release announcing the contracts, the Air Force Space and Missile Systems said it could still make additional awards.

“The Air Force is still in negotiations with the remaining offerors and subsequent awards, if any, will occur over the next few months,” the service said.

Orbital ATK won the biggest share of the money awarded Jan. 13. The Dulles, Virginia-based company stands to receive at least $46.9 million, and perhaps as much as $180 million, to develop three rocket propulsion system prototypes intended for use on an Orbital ATK next-generation launch vehicle.

Specifically, Orbital ATK will combine the Air Force money with at least $31 million, and as much as $124 million, of its own to develop the GEM 63XL strap-on solid rocket motor, the Common Booster Segment solid rocket motor, and an extendable nozzle for Blue Origin’s BE-3U upper stage engine.

SpaceX, meanwhile, will get at least $33.6 million, and perhaps as much as $61 million, to continue development of its methane-fueled Raptor engine. SpaceX is expected to match the Air Force’s investment in Raptor with at least $67 million, and as much as $123 million, according to the Air Force contract announcement.

The Air Force is under pressure to end its dependence on the RD-180, the Russian-built engine that powers the main stage of United Launch Alliance’s Atlas 5 rocket.

Congress has directed the Defense Department to develop a domestic propulsion systems that wouldenable the Air Force by 2019 to end its reliance on RD-180

When the Air Force solicited proposals in June, it said it was willing to fund work on both main- and upper-stage rocket engines.

The Air Force has said industry would be expected to cover at least one-third of the costs of their proposed development efforts, but the actual size of the government investment would vary from proposal to proposal.

SpaceNews.com

Source: Space News

by
Orbital ATK, SpaceX Win Air Force Propulsion Contracts

Posted in Whats New and tagged by with no comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *