WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force selected Blue Origin, Northrop Grumman and United Launch Alliance on Wednesday to each develop a domestic launch system prototype. The long-awaited Pentagon deal known as the Launch Services Agreement enables the U.S. to transition away from foreign propulsion systems such as the Russian-built RD-180 rocket engine.
Per the award, Blue Origin will receive $500 million for the development of the New Glenn rocket, Northrop Grumman's Orbital ATK is slated for $792 million for its OmegA Rocket, and United Launch Alliance will bring in $967 million for development of the Vulcan Centaur rocket.
Absent from the Air Force announcement was SpaceX, despite it winning an initial development award in 2016 alongside Blue Origin, ULA and Northrop Grumman.
"SpaceX is a valuable part of our launch team," began Dr. Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, when asked about an award for SpaceX. "They have seven future launches to be done, and they are putting up critical payloads for us including GPS."
"So, they have multiple launches coming up in the future, and the Air Force is interested and has the door open to work with them on certification if they want to pursue that with us. They can certainly compete in Phase 2," he added.
Below is a breakdown of launch capabilities and award details.