Air Force Starts EELV Launch Service Solicitation for 5 Natl Security Payloads

The U.S. Air Force has issued a final request for proposals for multiple contracts to develop and launch rockets that would carry five national security payloads into space.

Selected contractors will produce an Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle and carry out mission integration and launch operations, the service branch said Wednesday.

Payloads include the National Reconnaissance Office‘s NRO Launch-85 and NROL-87 missions as well as the Air Force’s SilentBarker, Space-Based Infrared System Geosynchronous Earth Orbit-5 and Air Force Space Command-44 spacecraft.

The latest RFP is the sixth competitive launch service solicitation under the Air Force’s Phase 1A procurement strategy, which works to meet operational requirements and reduce launch costs through competition.

SBIRS GEO-5 and AFSPC-44 are scheduled for deployment from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station or Kennedy Space Center in fiscal year 2021.

NROL-87 is slated for launch in FY 2021 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, while NROL-85 could be launched from the Eastern or Western Range in the same year.

The Air Force noted it plans to launch SilentBarker from Cape Canaveral AFS or Kennedy Space Center in FY 2022.

Responses to the RFP are due April 16, with the contract awards scheduled for late 2018.

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