Scheduled to launch in 2020, SpaceX won the bid worth $130 million to operate a classified Air Force satellite to space on its Falcon Heavy rocket. The information regarding the moon is not available except its name “AFSPC-52”.
One primary goal of organizing bids between the rocket companies for the launch is reducing government’s expenditure on the projects.
In the bid, SpaceX defeated the joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin, the United Launch Alliance which planned to use its Delta 4 rocket for the launch of the satellite.
As the launch was awarded to SpaceX, Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center Commander Lt. Gen. John Thompson said that SpaceX suits the requirements of the Air force and provides “resilient and affordable space capabilities” to the nation. On the other hand, the funds required to use Delta 4 for the launch went up to $350 million as reported by SpaceNews which costs hundreds of millions of dollars more than Falcon Heavy.
Though Falcon Heavy has only been launched once before, back in February, the US Air Force showed confidence in the abilities of the rocket by awarding the start to it. According to SpaceX, the previous launch of Falcon Heavy had mostly met the expectations of the team.
Previously, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 took almost two years, and about $60 million, to be certified for military missions. A lawsuit was also filed, which was dropped a few months before certification, for the same. However, the Air Force choosing the new rocket so readily is a departure for the past events. SpaceX has received various contracts after that from the Airforce.
SpaceX president and COO Gwynne Shotwell expressed the company’s honor and gratitude for the selection of Falcon Heavy for the “competitively-awarded AFSPC-52 mission”. “SpaceX is pleased to continue offering the American taxpayer the most cost-effective, reliable launch services for vital national security space missions,” Shotwell added.
It took $500 million for the development of Falcon Heavy, Elon Musk said as he expects to profit from the rocket. For the second launch, he said that it would take “three to six months” which may have been shifted to October according to reports.
About Falcon Heavy’s capabilities, he said that it could more than twice as much payload as any other rocket in the world. “But it can launch things directly to Pluto and beyond. No stop needed.”