Air Force Certifies Upgraded SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket – Satellite Today

SpaceX Falcon 9 Upgrade

SpaceX’s upgraded Falcon 9 rocket. Photo: SpaceX

[Via Satellite 01-27-2016] The U.S. Air Force has certified the baseline configuration of SpaceX‘s Falcon 9 launch system to Falcon 9 Upgrade, for use in National Security Space (NSS) missions. The new certification letter, approved Jan. 25, makes SpaceX eligible for award of NSS launch missions using this rocket.

SpaceX received certification for the regular Falcon 9 in May 2015 after a lengthy two-year process. The company is now able to compete with United Launch Alliance (ULA), the only other certified launch provider, for NSS missions.

This certification update takes into account all of the Spring 2015 Independent Review Committee’s recommendations, including clarification that the Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) commander, as the certifying official, has the authority to grant certification and updates based on a new entrant’s demonstrated capability to design, produce, qualify and deliver their launch system. This includes allowing new entrant certification with some open work, provided there are jointly approved work plans in place that support potential NSS mission processing timelines.

SpaceX and Air Force technical teams will jointly work to complete the tasks required to prepare SpaceX and the Falcon 9 Upgrade for NSS missions.

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