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USAF Awards EELV Rocket Engine Development OTAs to SpaceX, Orbital ATK

rocket-launchThe U.S. Air Force has awarded Orbital ATK (NYSE: OA) a $180.2 million ‘other transaction’ agreement and Space Exploration Technologies a $61.4 million OTA to build alternative propulsion systems for Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles.

The Defense Department said Wednesday the Space and Missile Systems Center received multiple proposals for the development of a U.S. substitute for the Russian RD-180 engine during a bid solicitation.

RD-180s help power United Launch Alliance-made Atlas V rockets that the Air Force uses to send some military satellites into orbit under the EELV program.

DoD noted Orbital ATK will work on the GEM 63XL and Common Booster Segment solid-rocket motors and an extendable nozzle for the BE-3U engine built by Blue Origin.

SpaceX will further develop its Raptor engine for integration into the company’s Falcon 9 heavy-lift launch vehicle, which the Air Force certified in May 2015 for potential inclusion in future military satellite launches.

The Air Force has obligated almost $47 million in fiscal 2015 research, development, test and evaluation funds to Orbital ATK at the time of award.

The company is scheduled to complete work by Dec. 30, 2019.

FY 2015 funds in the amount of $33.7 million have been obligated for SpaceX’s contract that will run through Dec. 31, 2018.

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