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Blue Origin Secures Pentagon Rocket Launch Contract Alongside SpaceX and ULA

Blue Origin Secures Pentagon Rocket Launch Contract Alongside SpaceX and ULA

Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin has secured its first contract in the Pentagon’s extensive $5.6 billion National Security Space Launch (NSSL) program, marking a significant milestone for the aerospace company. This development was announced on Thursday as part of the latest round of awards under the NSSL program.

The NSSL Phase 3 contracts have also been awarded to Elon Musk’s SpaceX and United Launch Alliance (ULA), the latter being a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing. These companies will now be eligible to compete for rocket launch missions through mid-2029.

In previous phases, ULA and SpaceX dominated the contract awards. Over the five years of Phase 2, ULA secured 26 missions valued at $3.1 billion, while SpaceX was awarded 22 missions worth $2.5 billion. Blue Origin, along with Northrop Grumman, did not secure any contracts in the Phase 2 selection made in August 2020.

However, Phase 3 introduces a more inclusive approach, expanding the competitive landscape for these crucial Space Force missions. The program is expected to encompass 90 rocket launch orders, divided into two distinct lanes—Lane 1 and Lane 2—facilitating broader participation from various aerospace companies.

The Space Force has described this bifurcated strategy as a “mutual fund” approach to procuring launches, ensuring a balance between high-cost, demanding missions and more routine launches. This strategic division aims to enhance competition and innovation within the sector, ultimately benefiting national security objectives.

Despite the announcement, representatives from Blue Origin, SpaceX, and ULA did not provide immediate comments when approached.

As the U.S. military ramps up its efforts in space, the inclusion of Blue Origin signifies a notable shift in the competitive dynamics of the space launch industry, reflecting the evolving priorities and strategic goals of the Pentagon’s space initiatives.