SpaceX Gets First GPS Launch Contract

Elon Musk’s company breaks the monopoly Boeing and Lockheed Martin have held on military space launches.

SpaceX
SpaceX has earned its first military launch contract.SpaceX

SpaceX has won its first military contract — $82.7 million to send a U.S. Air Force Global Positioning System satellite into space — breaking a long-held Boeing-Lockheed monopoly on military space launches.

The aerospace company, founded by CEO Elon Musk, will launch the Air Force’s next generation GPS satellite in May 2018.

The contract reintroduces competition into U.S. military space missions and gives SpaceX a potentially lucrative new source of revenue.

United Launch Alliance, a partnership between Lockheed Martin and Boeing, dropped out of the bidding process for the launch last year. ULA uses rocket engines built in Russia, and Congress has restricted engines made in Russia from being used in military launches. SpaceX also plans to keep costs much lower by re-using its first-stage rockets.

The Air Force plans to accept bids for eight more satellite launches between now and 2018.