SpaceX's Falcon Heavy wins its very first contract by the US Air Force

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy can carry nearly twice as much payload as compared to ULA's Delta IV rocket.


SpaceX's Falcon Heavy happens to be currently the most powerful rocket operational in the world. After a successful test run back in February, SpaceX had announced its intentions for carrying much heavier payloads than it is used to. As such, SpaceX has secured its very first contract for the Falcon Heavy and it is from the US Air Force.

SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket. Reuters

SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket. Reuters

The Falcon Heavy can carry nearly twice as much payload as compared to the next most powerful rocket which is the Delta IV operated by the United Launch Alliance (ULA). More importantly, the Falcon Heavy can achieve this at a fraction of the cost charged by ULA.

This new contract will put in near $130 million in SpaceX's pocket, however, as it happens the mission will not take place before September 2020. The launch, in question, is to put Air Force Space Command-52 satellite [into] its intended orbit."

As per the US Department of Defence's contract, it had received "two proposals" to launch the AFSC-52 into orbit. While the DoD has not mentioned any names, the only other organization apart from SpaceX capable of launching a heavy payload is ULA. This could well mean that SpaceX beat ULA to the DoD contract and this means trouble for ULA in securing future contracts.

As per a report by IBT, SpaceX has been winning every contract for the last four years when it has competed against ULA's Atlas V. While SpaceX charges an average of $96.9 million for Falcon 9 launches, and $130 million for Falcon Heavy launches while ULA's best price for launches happen to be around $177.4 million.

Quite clearly, any future missions will also favour SpaceX due to its low cost and also its successful demonstration of being capable of undertaking said missions. Could this mean that ULA, which is a joint venture by Boeing and Lockheed Martin, be put out of commission? Only time will tell.

 


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