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Space Force Awards Prototype Agreements to SpaceX, ULA, Rocket Lab, Blue Origin

The U.S. Space Force’s Space Systems Command has awarded prototype agreements worth $87.5 million combined to four companies to advance testing of next-generation rocket engines and improve the resiliency of upper stages, SpaceRef reported Friday.

The command’s Launch Enterprise awarded the prototype projects to SpaceX, United Launch Alliance, Rocket Lab and Blue Origin through the National Security Space Launch program using the Space Enterprise Consortium, which is being managed by the Space Development Corps.

SpaceX secured $14.47 million to support the Raptor rocket’s rapid throttling and restart testing, combustion stability analysis and liquid methane specification development and testing.

ULA received $24.35 million for Centaur’s uplink command and control, while Rocket Lab got $24.35 million for Neutron rocket’s upper stage development work.

Blue Origin secured $24.35 million to pursue cryogenic fluid management work on the Glenn launch vehicle’s second stage.

In May, the Space Force issued requests for prototype proposals for upper-stage resiliency improvements, next-generation rocket engine testing and orbital transfer and maneuver capabilities.

SSC expects to award the prototype projects for orbital transfer and maneuver in early fiscal year 2022, pending approval of the FY22 budget proposal in Congress. The command plans to launch a full and open competition for the third phase of the NSSL program in FY 2024.

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