SpaceX wins $96.5-million contract to launch Air Force satellite

SpaceX has won a $96.5-million contract to launch a GPS satellite for the U.S. Air Force.

The Hawthorne space company is scheduled to launch the GPS III satellite in February 2019 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The satellite will provide better anti-jamming capabilities and improved accuracy for precision navigation and timing, according to the Air Force.

SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said in a statement that the company was proud to be selected for this contract.

“We appreciate the confidence that the U.S. Air Force has placed in our company,” she said.

SpaceX was certified by the Air Force in 2015 to launch national security satellites, breaking up a longtime and lucrative monopoly held by a joint venture of Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp. called United Launch Alliance.

Last year, SpaceX won its first national security satellite launch contract, which was worth $82.7 million. At that time, United Launch Alliance did not bid on the contract.

A Department of Defense contract notice released Tuesday said two offers were received for the most recent GPS satellite bid.

Claire Leon, director of the launch enterprise directorate at the Air Force Space Command’s Space and Missile Systems Center, said in a conference call with reporters Wednesday that price was the determining factor in choosing the winner, as both bids met technical and mission evaluation criteria.

samantha.masunaga@latimes.com

Twitter: @smasunaga


UPDATES:

Mar. 15, 11:30 a.m.: This article was updated with comments from Claire Leon, director of the launch enterprise directorate at the Air Force Space Command’s Space and Missile Systems Center.

Mar. 14, 5:15 p.m.: This article was updated with a comment from SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell.

This article was originally published on Mar. 14 at 4 p.m.

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