"These awards are central to the Air Force goal of two domestic, commercially viable launch providers that meet National Security Space requirements", said Lt. Gen. John Thompson, the Air Force's Program Executive Officer for Space and SMC commander, in a release. "Leveraging domestic commercial space launch systems is good for the Air Force, and a revitalized commercial launch industry is good for the taxpayer". The Atlas uses RD-180 engines made in Russian Federation. Strap-on solid-fuel boosters also can be attached to the rocket for additional liftoff power depending on payload requirements.
The awards go to Amazon.com billionaire Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin; United Launch Services, part of the United Launch Alliance (ULA) joint venture between Boeing Co BA.N and Lockheed Martin Corp LMT.N ; and Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems NOC.N . The rocket will be launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and Vandenberg Air Force Base.
Artist concept of Northrop Grumman's OmegA Rocket, which is built in Chandler, Arizona. The company also recently announced that it would sell its BE-4 engine to ULA, another significant revenue stream. The New Glenn is a reusable orbital vehicle created to land back on Earth after launch.
Northrop will perform work in Arizona, Utah, Mississippi, Florida, Ohio and Louisiana through December 31, 2024, while Blue Origin will carry out prototype development in Washington and Alabama through July 31, 2024.
The U.S. Air Force is putting its money in three rockets.
"Blue Origin is proud to serve the NSS community and is committed to providing safe, reliable access to space for the nation".
The US Air Force yesterday said that it had awarded a total US$2.3 billion (RM9.55 billion) in contracts to develop rocket launch systems for national security missions.
The Air Force previous year released a request for proposal for its next iteration of the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle, known as EELV, to be used on space lift such as the Atlas V, Delta IV and Falcon 9 rocket systems. The company is receiving $791.6 million to develop their Omega rocket.