SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket wins Air Force certification and a $130 million contract

SpaceX's behemoth Falcon Heavy rocket has won U.S. Air Force's certification before even launching a second time, marking another milestone for CEO Elon Musk's space venture.

The Department of Defense said Thursday that SpaceX won a $130 million for a contract to launch the Air Force Space Command-52 satellite into orbit. The military said SpaceX beat out another bid, although it did not specify the competing company or provide further details on the competing offer. The work for the contract is expected to be complete in just over two years.

"SpaceX is pleased to continue offering the American taxpayer the most cost-effective, reliable launch services for vital national security space missions," Gwynne Shotwell, the company's president and chief operating officer, said in a statement.

The Air Force Space and Missile Systems Command had stated previously that certifying Falcon Heavy for national security and classified launches may take as few as two flights or as many as 14.

Falcon Heavy's scheduled second flight is Air Force's Space Test Program Flight 2 set to launch in October. STP-2 is an experimental launch carrying as many as 25 satellites.

SpaceX continues to win share of the U.S. military launch market from United Launch Alliance — a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin — after taking a dominant position in the commercial launch market.

At a much lower cost than other company's less powerful rockets, Falcon Heavy offers a distinct advantage in launching the world's heaviest and largest spacecraft. Meanwhile, the company's Falcon 9 rocket continues to demonstrate unprecedented reusability while working towards human spaceflight capabilities for NASA.

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