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Josh Dinner

Space Force chooses SpaceX, ULA for 12 military launches in 2025

A SpaceX rocket lifts off in the background behind the sign for Cape Canaveral Space Force Station

The United States Space Force is sticking with SpaceX and United Launch Alliance (ULA) for its military satellite launches.

Space Systems Command (SSC), responsible for developing and launching technologies for Space Force, issued a statement on June 8 detailing launch contract assignments for 12 National Security Space Launch (NSSL) missions, divided equally between SpaceX and United Launch Alliance (ULA). 

In a statement, SSC's division chief for launch procurement and integration Col. Chad Melone stated, "ULA and SpaceX continue to provide outstanding launch services with their reliable and innovative launch systems, and we are confident in their ability to maintain the unprecedented 100 percent program success for the NSSL missions assigned for launch in FY25." 

Related: What is the U.S. Space Force and what does it do?

The missions include a total of seven Space Develop Agency (SDA) missions to low Earth orbit (LEO) containing the first generation of the Tranche 1 communication and missile-tracking satellite constellation. 

These transport and tracking layer satellites, with designations T1TL and T1TR, are part of the SDA's Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture (PWSA), a network of satellites that allows for advanced weapons detection and high-speed communication among critical military infrastructure. 

"Our ongoing commitment to successfully launch our secure communications, GPS, and space awareness satellites, and place them into their orbits, continues to provide our warfighters and nation's decision-makers with the assets and vital information they need every day to stay ahead of and deter adversarial forces," Maj. Gen. Stephen Purdy, SSC's program executive officer for Assured Access to Space, said in the statement.

A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket will launch SDA T1TL missions B through E, SDA T1TR-C. A classified mission for the U.S. Space Force, USFF-31, will launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9

ULA's Vulcan was selected to fly two missions for the National Reconnaissance Organization, NROL-64 and 83, as well the GPS III-08 mission. Vulcan will also be launching SDA T1TR missions B and D, as well as the classified USSF-114. 

The SDA's first Tranche 1 launch was originally slated for late 2024, but delays in the development of ULA's new Vulcan rocket make it unlikely the vehicle will be certified for NSSL missions within that time frame.  

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