Space Systems Command (SSC) is partnering with industry on prototype projects to invest in next generation rocket engine testing and upper stage resiliency enhancements.
SSC’s Launch Enterprise has awarded FY21 prototype projects for Raptor Rapid Throttling and Restart Testing; Liquid Methane Specification Development and Testing; and Combustion Stability Analysis and Testing to SpaceX for $14.47 million, for Uplink Command and Control for Centaur V to United Launch Alliance for $24.35 million, for Upper Stage Development for Neutron to Rocket Lab for $24.35 million, and for Cryogenic Fluid Management for Glenn Stage 2 to Blue Origin for $24.35 million, under the National Security Space Launch program using the Space Development Corps’ Space Enterprise Consortium (SpEC).
Prototype projects for orbital transfer and maneuver are anticipated for award in early FY22, pending congressional approval of the FY22 budget request.
The SSC Launch Enterprise is the nation’s premier launch provider across the full spectrum of launch capabilities, from small scientific and experimental satellites to the largest national security payloads. The National Security Space Launch program provides assured access for our nation’s most critical warfighting space assets: secure strategic communications, strategic missile warning and National Reconnaissance Office intelligence satellites. These are the launches that cannot fail.
The NSSL program has launched these vital missions successfully to the point in space where they are needed with unprecedented mission success since 2003 and will continue to do so. Established in 2017, SpEC facilitates engagement between the Department of Defense space community, industry, and academia. SpEC leverages these partnerships to promote integrated research and prototyping efficiencies, and to accelerate next-generation space-related technology and prototype development. Today, the Consortium now has just under 600 members, 70 percent of which are non-traditional.
“Our Launch Industry is the envy of the World and we are excited to partner with industry to advance transformational space access capabilities,” said Col. Rob Bongiovi, director of SSC’s Launch Enterprise. “We have also been very pleased with the exceptional acquisition flexibility and speed provided by SpEC.”
“SpEC continues to infuse innovation across the space enterprise, and we’re thrilled to see the NSSL program leverage SpEC to prototype next generation launch systems,” said Col. Brian Denaro, program executive officer for Space Development and director of SSC’s Space Development Corps which manages the SpEC program. While these prototype projects are conducted, SSC continues to develop the next phase of the NSSL strategy in support of a full and open procurement competition for NSSL Phase 3 in FY24.
SSC is headquartered at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, California, and is a U.S. Space Force field command responsible for developing and acquiring lethal and resilient space capabilities for warfighters by rapidly identifying, prototyping, fielding and sustaining innovative, space-based solutions to meet the demands of the National Defense Strategy. SSC’s functions include developmental testing, production, launch, on-orbit checkout, and maintenance of USSF space systems, as well as and oversight of USSF science and technology activities.