The US Department of Defense has awarded two contracts total worth $79 million for development of rocket propulsion system prototypes for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program.
As per terms of the Air Force contracts, the two awardees ATK Launch Systems Inc. and Space Exploration Technologies, Corp. (SpaceX) will develop three rocket propulsion system prototypes and Raptor rocket propulsion system prototype respectively.
The agreements implements Section 1604 of the Fiscal Year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act, which requires the development of a next-generation rocket propulsion system that will transition away from the use of the Russian-supplied RD-180 engine to a domestic alternative for National Security Space launches, the statement said Wednesday.
Under $46 million contract, ATK will develop prototypes of the GEM 63XL strap-on solid rocket motor, the Common Booster Segment (CBS) solid rocket motor, and an Extendable Nozzle for Blue Origin’s BE-3U upper stage engine. These rocket propulsion systems are intended for use on an Orbital ATK next generation launch vehicle. The GEM 63XL strap-on solid rocket motor is also intended for use on United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan launch vehicle. The work is expected to be completed by Dec. 30, 2019.
Whereas, SpaceX is awarded $33 million contract to develop a prototype of the Raptor engine for the upper stage of the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launch vehicles. The work is expected to be completed by Dec. 31, 2018.
The total potential investment by ATK Launch Systems Inc. and SpaceX, including all options, is $124 million and $122 million respectively.