AF & Space X reach agreement – AF expanded # of competitive opportunities, Space X will dismiss claims relating to EELV block buy contract
— USAF Pressdesk (@usafpressdesk) January 23, 2015
More details when they become available….
UPDATE: The U.S. Air Force and SpaceX have released the following statement:
The Air Force and SpaceX have reached agreement on a path forward for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program that improves the competitive landscape and achieves mission assurance for national security space launches. Under the agreement, the Air Force will work collaboratively with SpaceX to complete the certification process in an efficient and expedient manner. This collaborative effort will inform the SECAF directed review of the new entrant certification process. The Air Force also has expanded the number of competitive opportunities for launch services under the EELV program while honoring existing contractual obligations. Going forward, the Air Force will conduct competitions consistent with the emergence of multiple certified providers. Per the settlement, SpaceX will dismiss its claims relating to the EELV block buy contract pending in the United States Court of Federal Claims.
It’s not clear exactly what expanding “the number of competitive opportunities….while honoring existing contractual obligations” means. The latter would be the 36-core bulk buy with ULA. If the Air Force is honoring that commitment, then it’s not clear where the extra opportunities to bid on launches are coming from.
UPDATE: The U.S. Air Force originally put 14 launches up for competitive bid during the time period of the bulk buy. However, it then cut that number back to 7 with one additional launch possible. The rest of the launches were deferred until a later date. So, my guess is the Air Force might open those up to bid earlier than planned. There’s also a launch contract that’s up for bid now that SpaceX can’t bid on because of the delay in becoming certification. Perhaps that has been delayed to allow SpaceX to bid on it.
Meanwhile, it looks like the Air Force prevailed in keeping its bulk buy with ULA intact if the service is respecting its existing contractual obligations.