SpaceX's massive Falcon Heavy rocket lands $130 million military launch contract

Falcon Heavy

All work with regard to the contract will be conducted in Hawthorne, California, the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and McGregor in Texas. The $130 million contract stipulates that SpaceX will launch the Falcon Heavy on a military mission in two years' time. The military also awarded SpaceX a launch service contract amounting to $130 million. At the time, Musk claimed that an average ULA launch cost $225 million while SpaceX could do the job for less than $100 million.

The Falcon Heavy rocket performed its inaugural test flight in February. Regardless of the specifics, many of which have likely been kept under wraps, the Air Force must have been quite impressed with the rocket's debut performance, and Falcon Heavy has now - according to President and COO Gwynne Shotwell - been certified for USAF missions just four months later.

This is the first classified national security payload, or NSS payload, award for SpaceX's new Falcon Heavy. This counts as SpaceX's second military contract, but the first that will use a Falcon Heavy, the world's most powerful rocket. The mission is planned to be launched from Kennedy Space Center.

It's somewhere between hard and impossible to accurately compare the different payloads and launches of the Air Force Space Command (AFSPC), but SpaceX's only competitor ULA was awarded a contract for the launch of two relatively different AFSPC payloads at an average (fixed) cost of $175 million per mission.

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As reported by the Inquisitr, the Falcon Heavy is 230 feet tall and 40 feet wide, and its first stage basically incorporates three Falcon 9 rockets strapped together. These launch service contract awards strike a balance between meeting operational needs and lowering launch costs through reintroducing competition for National Security Space missions. Sources in the industry have told Quartz that if SpaceX's Falcon Heavy is successful, it could replace the Delta IV on cost grounds, alone.

After a Falcon Heavy test flight in February, a NASA official said the rocket was "too small" for the deep space exploration.

Falcon 9 or Falcon Heavy?

An illustration of SpaceX's and Elon Musk's "Big F--ing Rocket" system launching toward space.

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