SpaceX could soon take on some of the US government’s top priority satellite missions. Bloomberg reports that the Space Force has certified SpaceX to launch top-secret spy satellites using Falcon Heavy rockets equipped with reusable boosters. The move, of course, gives SpaceX more high-profile government missions, but it also promises to save federal money by reducing the cost of getting those satellites into orbit. The Space Force has already saved over $64 million on GPS missions by using reusable Falcon 9 rockets, said Space Systems Command Falcon chief Walter Lauderdale.
The Space Force issued the certification in June but has not yet disclosed the approval. SpaceX can carry spy satellites aboard Falcon 9 rockets, but they don’t always have the power needed for heavier payloads. The first Falcon Heavy-based launch is expected between October and December, when SpaceX will deliver a National Reconnaissance Office satellite.
This could deal a significant, albeit temporary, blow to competing missile makers. The Boeing-Lockheed-Martin joint venture United Launch Alliance has still not received similar approval for a version of its Vulcan rocket powered by Blue Origin engines. Air Force officials are still reviewing the approach for 39 national security launches planned for fiscal years 2025-2027. SpaceX is not guaranteed to win any contracts that would otherwise go to ULA, but its past certification could influence any decisions.
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https://www.engadget.com/spacex-falcon-heavy-approval-top-secret-satellites-202745650.html?src=rss SpaceX’s reusable Falcon Heavy rocket can now carry US spy satellites into orbit