SpaceX wins $130 million USAF military contract to put their military satellite in space
SpaceX has recently bagged a $130 million US Air Force contract for sending their classified military satellite in the space. The AirForce has approved Falcon Heavy rocket to carry out this mission which is supposed to put the satellite AFSPC-52 in the desired orbit by September 2020.
US Air Force has put their faith on SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket which has till date carried out only one launch mission. The reason seems to be the cost-effective bid that was offered by the SpaceX in comparison to other bid participants. The military believes that SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket offers a cost-effective solution as well as assured space access which is required particularly for this launch program.
Apart from SpaceX, United Launch Alliance was also one of the bidders for this military space program. United Launch Alliance is a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin and they were in this to offer their heavy-lift Delta 4 rocket to ferry the military satellite in the space. The Delta 4 rocket costs $350 million which is more than double the price of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket.
SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket uses the same rocket booster engines as used in Falcon 9 rocket which has carried out over 50 successful missions and has been currently granted military certification. SpaceX has acquired USAF contract and has carried it out successfully using the Falcon 9 in the past. Hence, one can say that US AirForce is backing on SpaceX because of its past performance and cost-effective launch solutions.
The purpose of the satellite AFSPC-52 is classified and the launch date hasn't been finalized yet. However, the military wants the satellite to be in the desired orbit by September 2020 and the launch has been planned to occur at Kennedy Space Center, Florida.
Source - Los Angeles Air Force Base