The Air Force is expected to release the official request for proposals for GPS III services in June, marking the first opportunity for SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launch vehicle to compete against United Launch Alliances’s rockets, the service announced Tuesday. According to the draft RFP, issued earlier this month, the GPS III launch would be the first of nine space launch missions that USAF will compete as part of its Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle phase 1A strategy. The already intense rivalry between the two companies was evident during a March House Armed Services Committee hearing, in which both sides questioned the other’s capabilities. “The SpaceX and [Space and Missile Systems Center] teams have worked hard to achieve certification,” said SMC boss Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves. “And we’re also maintaining our spaceflight worthiness process supporting the National Security Space missions. Our intent is to promote the viability of multiple EELV-class launch providers as soon as feasible.”
The Air Force pointed out numerous operational and programmatic effects from Congress' inability to approve fiscal 2022 funding. These include hits to programs already underway as well as 16 new starts, plus seven military construction projects. Readiness also is suffering because the funding limits maintenance and exercises.