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Pentagon authorizes SpaceX to launch reusable rockets for military missions

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The Pentagon has authorized SpaceX to send a national security satellite into orbit for the first time aboard a reusable Falcon 9 rocket, which is due to launch on Thursday, June 17.

The United States Space Force last year changed contracts for the next two launches of GPS III SV05 satellites to allow reuse. The military estimates that this will save the Space and Missile Systems Center about $ 64 million.

The rocket that will launch the GPS III SV05 satellite into orbit launched the GPS III SV04 satellite last November. The company’s Falcon 9 rockets are partially reusable, as SpaceX regularly returns boosters – the largest and most expensive part of the rocket – to Earth and then launches again.

To date, the Pentagon has won five of the six contracts for the launch of GPS III satellites with SpaceX, with the GPS III SV02 mission being the only one launched by rival United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin to make rockets. The five launch contracts are valued at $ 469.8 million and did not initially include the ability for SpaceX to reuse its Falcon 9 rockets.

The U.S. Space Force has demanded that SpaceX use the same SV05 launch booster that launched the SV04 satellite. But at the same time, the Center for Space and Rocket Systems “has no other restrictions” and does not mind if missiles from non-military missions are reused in the future.

The Center for Space and Rocket Systems has been working on authorizing reusable rockets for the past five years, presenting new requirements. He noted that the center reviewed over 440 accelerator changes and performed over 380 pre-launch checks.

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