Blue Origin’s New Glenn New Glenn’s second stage tank at Launch Complex 36 in Cape Canaveral, FL., July 14, 2022. (Photo: Blue Origin)
By Theresa Hitchens,
Published by Breaking Defense, 5 October 2023
Interested companies have until Dec. 15 to respond to the service’s dual requests for proposals: one for the critical, high-dollar NSSL Phase 3 Lane 2 launches; and the other for Lane 1 small launches.
WASHINGTON — The Space Force’s final solicitations to industry for its future billion-dollar National Security Space Launch (NSSL) Phase 3 program formalizes the service’s plans to choose three launch firms to loft its most important payloads to orbit, while also expanding the universe of small launch providers for other types of missions.
“Our Phase 3 strategy provides maximum opportunity for emerging and experienced launch service providers alike to participate in the NSSL program and provide our nation with the most robust launch capability we have ever possessed,” Col. Doug Pentecost, deputy for Space Systems Command’s Assured Access to Space program executive office, said in a press release today. “The resiliency and affordability of this approach will benefit our growing domestic launch industry and provide the capability, supply chain stability, capacity, and launch efficiency needed for our NSS missions.”
Interested companies have until Dec. 15 to respond to the service’s dual requests for proposals issued Wednesday: one for the critical, high-dollar NSSL Phase 3 Lane 2 launches; and the other for Lane 1 small launches.
For Lane 2, three heavy-lift rocket vendors will be chosen to vie for launch orders made from fiscal year 2025 through 2029 to lift payloads to all orbits (from low Earth orbit up to deep space), with the service at the moment expecting a total of 58. While ordered from FY25 to FY27, the actual Lane 2 launches will take place from FY27 to FY32 because of the two-year acquisition cycle.
“If the Government determines there are less than three awardable offerors, the Government may award less than three contracts. The Contractor shall have the capability to deliver at least eight (8) NSS Launch Services per year,” the Lane 2 solicitation says. First awards are expected next fall.
Under Phase 2, United Launch Alliance and SpaceX are competing for task orders, and both are expected to compete for NSSL Phase 3 Lane 2. Blue Origin, owned by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos, also is expected to throw its hat in the ring for Lane 2 with its New Glenn rocket expected to fly for the first time next year.
Lane 1 is a new acquisition construct for the NSSL program, under which the Space Force intends “to competitively award multiple award Indefinite-Delivery Indefinite-Quantity (IDIQ) contracts. These IDIQ contracts will have a five (5)-year basic ordering period and a 5-year option ordering period,” according to the request for proposals.
“The NSSL program may procure Lane 1 launch or rideshare services with commercial launch service or rideshare, pending legal, policy, and other potential impacts,” the solicitation adds, noting that the Space Force “will reopen the original IDIQ solicitation on an annual basis to on-ramp emerging providers or systems.”
The ordering period for Lane 1 launches will cover FY25 through FY34, and competitors are expected to include Rocket Lab, Firefly Aerospace and ABL Space Systems — all of whom have previously supplied launch services for the Space Force. First awards are expected next spring.
See: Original Article