The US Space Force has a national security mission coming up soon that will place GPS satellites into orbit. Space Force has approved the use of used SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets for its national security missions. A new contract modification signed with the Space Force will allow the upcoming GPS satellite launch to use previously flown Falcon 9 first stage boosters.
Now that used rockets are approved, taxpayers will save an estimated $53 million between the two spaceflights, according to Space Force officials. SpaceX president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell issued a statement saying that the company was proud to leverage the Falcon 9 flight-proven benefits and capabilities for national security space launches.
She also said that the company was appreciative of the efforts Space Force invested into evaluating the used rockets and that SpaceX was pleased Space Force sees the benefits of the technology. Shotwell says that the company’s extensive reuse experiments allow it to continually upgrade its rocket fleet and save significant tax dollars.
SpaceX has been re-flying its first stage rockets for a long time helping to reduce the cost of spaceflight. The company designed its larger Falcon Heavy rocket to be reusable as well. The previous contract modification allowed SpaceX to land Falcon 9 first stages during GPS satellite launches for Space Force. The next launch, GPS III-SV04, is scheduled for Tuesday, September 29, and the first stage will attempt to land for reuse.
The new contract modification allows GPS III-SV05 and GPS III-SV06 satellites to launch with previously-flown first stage rockets. Both of those launches are currently planned for sometime next year. Before SpaceX perfected its landing technique, it did lose several first-stage rockets during recovery attempts.