The Air Force on Monday awarded a $900 million contract to three companies for its Rocket Systems Launch Program.
Lockheed Martin, Orbital Sciences, and Space Exploration Technologies won the deal for RSLP, which will support ballistic missile testing and sub-orbital space launch initiatives. According to the contract announcement, work will take place in Utah, Arizona and California and is expected to conclude in November 2017.
RSLP, part of the Space and Missile Systems Center's Space Development and Test Wing, grew from the Advanced Ballistic Reentry Systems program, which was established in 1963 to manage reentry vehicle research and to reactivate ICBM assets.
The program also supports the Missile Defense Agency by launching inactive ICBMs to be used as targets during flight tests, and there are plans for RSLP to support additional tests for NASA, according to an Air Force fact sheet. The service considers RSLP to be a cost-effective launch option for small space vehicles and has to date conducted eight space missions using Minuteman and Peacekeeper rocket motors.
The Air Force notes in its fact sheet that “the program's primary goal is to be the provider of choice by offering highly reliable and cost-effective launch services in support of DOD and other government agencies.”