Spaceflight Insider

U.S. Air Force certifies SpaceX Falcon 9 as meeting preset requirements

Photo Credit: SpaceX

Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX ) announced today that the company’s Falcon 9 booster has been recognized as completing three flights by the United States Air Force. This milestone is viewed as pivotal toward having the booster compete under the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program. Having the F9 confirmed as having carried out these three flights is a turning point, one which could lead to the Hawthorne, California-based firm joined United Launch Alliance in carrying out missions on behalf of the Department of Defense (DoD).

According to SpaceX, the company is already qualified under the guidelines set forth by the Air Force – but it also must be certified before any contract can be awarded. SpaceX has stated it believes that it can accomplish this as early as later this year.

This past April, SpaceX CEO and Founder Elon Musk announced during a press conference held at a National Press Club meeting in Washington, D.C., that his company was suing the U.S. Air Force due to the 36 booster “block buy” that the Air Force had signed with ULA as part of the EELV Program. At present, ULA is the sole launch service provider on the EELV contract. An injunction was then issued by U.S. Federal Judge Susan Braden on April 30 to prevent more of the Russian-made RD-180 rocket engines at the core of the lawsuit from being procured. By May 9, Judge Braden had lifted the injunction.


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Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology,, The Mars Society and Universe Today.

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