"These awards are central to the Air Force goal of two domestic, commercially viable launch providers that meet National Security Space requirements", said Lt. Gen. John Thompson, the Air Force's Program Executive Officer for Space and SMC commander, in a release. "The funding provided through this agreement will be used to tailor our launch vehicle and associated facilities for national security space needs".
uAn artist's impression of a United Launch Alliance Vulcan Centaur rocket blasting off from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The Atlas uses RD-180 engines made in Russian Federation.
According to the Air Force, it had to develop a strategy that can accelerate domestic companies' quest to get National Security Space launch requirements. Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems formerly Orbital ATK - will build the OmegA launch system, and ULA is slated to build its Vulcan Centaur launch system, both with initial launch capability by 2021.
Blue Origin's and Northrop's prototype vehicles for military launches are expected to be ready to fly by late 2024 and ULA's Vulcan rocket development should be completed by March 2025. The company also recently announced that it would sell its BE-4 engine to ULA, another significant revenue stream. Bezos tweeted a thank-you message Wednesday to the Air Force for its "confidence in the Blue Origin team". The company is receiving $791.6 million to develop their Omega rocket.
"The LSA partnership enables rapid buildout of NSS-unique New Glenn infrastructure such as vertical payload integration capability and a launch site at Vandenberg Air Force Base as well as completion of NSS certification activities".
Blue Origin is profiting from the retirement of the United Launch Alliance's Delta IV, which first experienced flight in 2002.