The Air Force on Wednesday officially requested bids for the next GPS III satellite launch, giving SpaceX and United Launch Alliance until Sept. 19 to bid for the 2019 mission. Under the request, posted Aug. 3, the Air Force will award a firm-fixed price contract that covers launch vehicle production, mission integration, and launch operations. The Air Force in June released a draft request for proposals to industry to collect input before the final request was released, attempting to avoid a repeat of the April contract award where United Launch Alliance didn’t bid. “Through this competitive solicitation for GPS III launch services, we hope to continue fostering competition in order to promote innovation and reduce cost to the taxpayer while maintaining our laser focus on mission success,” Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center and Air Force program executive officer for space, in a news release.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.