Space Force awards $87.5M to Blue Origin, Rocket Lab, SpaceX and ULA for testing

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An artist’s conception shows Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket soaring. (blue original illustration)

of the US Space Force space system command today announced awards totaling $87.5 million to support prototype commercial projects related to next-generation rocket testing and enhancements to make upper stages more flexible.

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The awards were given under the auspices of the National Security Space Launch Program using the Space Development Corps’ Space Enterprise Consortium, which facilitates the involvement of the Pentagon space community, industry and academia. Awards include:

  • $24.35 million to Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin space venture for cryogenic fluid management in the second stage of the New Glenn rocket.
  • $24.35 million to Rocket Lab to develop the upper stage of the Neutron rocket.
  • $14.47 million to SpaceX for rapid throttling and restart testing of the Raptor rocket engine, earmarked for use on SpaceX’s Starship rocket, liquid methane specification development and testing; and combustion stability analysis and testing.
  • $24.35 million to United Launch Alliance for uplink command and control for the Centaur V upper stage, which will be used with ULA’s Vulcan rocket.

Prototype projects for orbital transfer and maneuvering are projected in the early part of the 2022 fiscal year, pending Congressional budget approval.


“Our launch industry is the envy of the world, and we are excited to partner with the industry to advance transformative space access capabilities,” said Colonel Rob Bongiovi, Director of SSC’s Launch Enterprise, said in a news release.

While prototype projects are conducted, SSC continues to develop the next phase of the National Security Space Launch Strategy, in support of a Phase 3 procurement competition for the 2024 fiscal year. Millions of dollars in Phase II contracts were awarded to SpaceX and ULA last year.

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