SpaceX is given the go-ahead to use refurbished rockets for national security missions

SpaceX has deployed Falcon 9 rockets for commercial missions many times, but it has been limited to providing brand new reinforcements for national security contracts so far.

However, according to CNBC reports, the Pentagon has signed the first SpaceX mission using a modified rocket, and the GPS III satellite will be launched on Thursday, June 17. On June 12, SpaceX successfully supplied power to the Falcon 9 thruster, which flew during the preparation phase of the company’s fourth launch of an upgraded GPS III navigation satellite for the US military. A few years ago, SpaceX won most of the GPS III thanks to the combination of Falcon 9’s excellent reliability and affordability, which guaranteed five competitive contracts.

The company achieved its first GPS III launch in December 2019. Due to customer requirements rather than performance, the new Falcon 9 booster (B1054) was used to ensure that some abnormality or poor performance occurred during the launch. Extreme profit in the case. In 2020, SpaceX once again launched a GPS III satellite for the US military. Although the company was allowed to land the Falcon 9 thruster to support the mission, it successfully recovered. Less than five months after the successful launch of GPS III SV03, SpaceX turned around and launched GPS III SV04, again equipped with a new Falcon 9 rocket, and recovered the booster at sea. However, a few months ago, the US Center for Space and Missile Systems (SMC) announced a contract modification that allowed SpaceX to begin reusing Falcon 9 thrusters in National Security Space Launch (NSSL) missions. ), starting from the company’s fourth GPS III.

The Pentagon Space Force first accepted the idea of ​​using modified rockets to launch military payloads last year, especially for the GPS III program. “In preparation for the first event, we worked closely with SpaceX to understand the transformation process, and we believe that this rocket is ready for the next flight,” Dr. Walter, deputy mission director, told CNBC. SpaceX signed a $470 million contract with the Pentagon to launch five of the six GPS III satellites to date, and the other was awarded to the rival Joint Launch Alliance. The contract initially did not allow reusable rockets, but last year the military modified the agreement to enable reuse, a move that will help it save approximately $64 million. The Falcon 9 thruster, which flew its payload on Thursday, performed the previous Space Force GPS III mission.
However, the space force stated that this would not be a future limitation. Dr. Lauderdale said: “Of course we are willing to use other [redesigned] thrusters, not just those that have been flown for [Space Force].” Now that it has been approved to fly, the Falcon 9 will lie flat. And return to the LC-40 integrated hangar, where SpaceX will install the packaged GPS III SV05 satellite and payload fairing, located on top of the rocket’s one-off second stage.
On June 13, at the payload processing facility near LC-40, SpaceX had four days to complete the integration, push the Falcon 9 back to the launch pad, and prepare the rocket for flight. Now, for the first time in 12 months near the East Coast, the Just Read The Instructions (JRTI) uncrewed boat left Port Canaveral on the same day for the GPS III SV05 booster recovery area followed by the last A temporary fairing recovery area. The ship on June 14 moved half of the mission nose out of the Atlantic Ocean.

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