After an extended spat between Elon Musk and the US Air Force, SpaceX has finally been certified for military space missions, muscling into what had been a cosy monopoly held by a Lockheed-Boeing joint venture.
An Air Force press release notes that the first opportunity for SpaceX to compete to provide launch services will probably be in June, for the GPS III satellite launch.
“This is a very important milestone for the Air Force and the Department of Defense," said the Secretary of the Air Force, Deborah Lee James, who added:
SpaceX’s emergence as a viable commercial launch provider gives the opportunity to compete for launch services for the first time in almost a decade.SpaceX will now be able to compete against the former monopoly holder, United Launch Alliance (ULA), a coalition between US aerospace-defence behemoths Lockheed and Boeing. It will be in the market to launch not only friendly GPS spacecraft, but also spy satellites which can be used to carry out surveillance against nations and persons of interest. It has been suggested in the past that this could include the USA and US citizens.
Ultimately, leveraging of the commercial space market drives down cost to the American taxpayer and improves our military’s resiliency.