Too Early to Know

The Air Force does not yet know whether SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket failure on Sunday will affect the company’s ability to compete for upcoming national security space launches. “At this time, it’s too early to assess any impact that the SpaceX launch failure has on future [Defense Department] launch missions,” an Air Force spokeswoman told Air Force Magazine on Monday. “The Department is firmly committed to smoothly transitioning our launch enterprise with a continued strong focus on maintaining assured access to space for national security space missions,” she said. The Falcon 9 rocket exploded after liftoff on June 28 on a NASA mission to supply the International Space Station. “Cause still unknown after several thousand engineering hours of review,” wrote SpaceX CEO Elon Musk in a tweet posted on Monday. The Air Force in May certified the Falcon 9 for national security space launches, enabling SpaceX to compete against United Launch Alliances rockets for future launch contracts. Service officials said the first contract they’d open to the Falcon 9 would be for the launch services to place GPS III satellites in orbit.