[Via Satellite 06-03-2015] The United States Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) has released a formal solicitation seeking proposals for public-private investments in rocket propulsion system prototypes. This solicitation is part of a comprehensive Air Force plan to transition off the Russian supplied RD-180 propulsion system used on the Atlas 5 rocket by investing in domestic industry launch solutions.
The Air Force plans to award a portfolio of investments on a rolling basis in up to four industry Rocket Propulsion System (RPS) solutions. These investments, which will last approximately 12 to 18 months, are to build the foundation for awarding separate investments in industry launch system solutions and secure launch service commitments from invested companies. Concurrently, the Air Force will continue to competitively award launch services contracts to certified providers, which currently includes United Launch Alliance (ULA) and SpaceX.
“The end goal of our strategy is to have two or more domestic, commercially viable launch providers that also meet national security space requirements,” said Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, the Air Force’s program executive officer for space and the Commander of SMC. “This is 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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