Space Force considering strategy for procuring national security launch services

Acquisition govt Frank Calvelli mentioned he could be open to a unique mannequin than the present two-vendor method

WASHINGTON — The House Pressure launch procurement command in Los Angeles later this 12 months will ship to the Pentagon a proposed technique for choosing nationwide safety launch companies suppliers for the following spherical of contracts anticipated to be awarded in 2024. 

“The NSSL [National Security Space Launch] group is off working the technique for Section 3, however nothing has been agreed to but,” Frank Calvelli, the House Pressure’s senior acquisition govt, instructed reporters June 28. 

United Launch Alliance and SpaceX in 2020 received five-year NSSL Phase 2 contracts to launch as many as 35 army and intelligence area missions. These contracts are up for recompete in 2024,  

The launch workplace on the House Programs Command can be drafting a proposed Section 3 technique over the summer season and fall, “after which it’ll undergo the approval cycle right here. So it’s within the works,” he mentioned.

Calvelli mentioned he could be open to a unique mannequin than the present two-vendor method.  One of many choices being mentioned is to choose a number of distributors to compete for activity orders, a technique the House Pressure makes use of to buy smallsat launch services below the Rocket Programs Launch Program (RSLP). This system additionally permits new suppliers to be added if the federal government decides it wants extra opponents. 

We haven’t made selections on that, and we’re nonetheless considering that by,” mentioned Calvelli. “However that’s one thought that’s come up.”

Calvelli mentioned he appreciated the RSLP mannequin “as a result of it permits new people to be added in … and present that they will do issues.” Within the business at the moment “there’s all these completely different suppliers on the market. And there’s some actually nice ones. So how do you make the most of that and be sure you’re in a position to be revolutionary when it comes to permitting new people into the contract?”

The House Programs Command has been doing market analysis in preparation for Section 3. In January it issued a request to industry providers asking for details about their capabilities.  

Chief of House Operations Gen. John “Jay” Raymond instructed the Home Armed Providers Committee in April that “there’s room for elevated competitors” within the NSSL program. The committee in its version of the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act mentioned the House Pressure ought to “discover new and revolutionary acquisition approaches to leverage launch competitors inside the business market.”

Todd Harrison, senior vp and head of analysis at Meta Aerospace, mentioned the two-vendor technique must be reconsidered. 

“You don’t should lock your self right into a five-year duopoly, which is what their present acquisition technique does,” Harrison mentioned June 28 throughout a Nationwide Safety House Affiliation on-line occasion. 

“They might open that up and you might have different launch firms like Blue Origin, and others turning into operational within the close to future. So why restrict your self? Go along with the perfect supplier. That’s worth.”

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