[Via Satellite 01-14-2016] The Air Force Space Command’s Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) has awarded SpaceX and Orbital ATK with the first two Other Transaction Agreements (OTAs) for shared public-private investments in Rocket Propulsion System (RPS) prototypes. SpaceX received an initial contribution of $33.6 million for development testing of the Raptor upper stage engine, and Orbital ATK received $46.9 million for development of the Common Booster Segment main stage, the Graphite Epoxy Motor (GEM) 63XL strap-on booster, and an extendable nozzle for Blue Origin‘s BE-3U/EN upper stage engine.
The OTA awards spur on the Air Force’s efforts to transition away from the Russian-supplied RD-180 propulsion system used on the Atlas 5 rocket. The Air Force is investing in propulsion solutions based on previously collected industry propositions. The value of each agreement varies depending on what was proposed. The Air Force is still in negotiations with the remaining contenders, and subsequent awards, if any, will occur over the next few months.
“Having two or more domestic, commercially viable launch providers that also meet national security space requirements is our end goal,” said Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, Air Force program executive officer for space and SMC commander. “These awards are essential in order to solidify U.S. assured access to space, transition the [Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle] EELV program away from strategic foreign reliance, and support the U.S. launch industry’s commercial viability in the global market.”
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