September 30, 2016 – The U.S. Air Force released a Request for Proposal for an Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) Launch Service supporting the Space Test Program (STP) 3 mission scheduled to launch in June 2019.
The draft RFP was released on August 19 to obtain industry feedback to inform the final RFP. After extensive industry engagements, the final RFP was released on September 29 with proposals due back to the Air Force no later than December 2 in accordance with the solicitation instructions.
The Air Force will award a firm-fixed price contract that will provide the government with a total launch solution including launch vehicle production, mission integration and launch operations for the STP-3 mission. The Air Force’s acquisition strategy for this solicitation achieves a balance between mission success/operational needs, and lowering launch costs, through reintroducing competition for National Security Space missions.
“Through this solicitation for STP-3, we hope to promote healthy competition in order to foster innovation while securing Assured Access to Space through multiple reliable, affordable and efficient launch service providers,” said Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, Air Force program executive officer for Space and Space and Missile Systems Center commander.
Both United Launch Alliance (ULA) of Centennial, Colorado, and SpaceX of Hawthorne, California, are certified launch providers and can bid on this contract.
This will be a standalone contract for the STP-3 launch service. The STP-3 mission consists of a primary space vehicle (STPSat-6) and a propulsive EELV Secondary Payload Adapter (ESPA) holding up to 6 payloads that will be identified no later than 12-months prior to launch.
The STPSat-6 space vehicle will host the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), Space and Atmospheric Burst Reporting System-3 (SABRS-3) payload, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) payload. Additionally, seven Science and Technology (S&T) payloads are manifested by the Department of Defense Space Test Program.
This is the third competitive launch service solicitation under the current Phase 1A procurement strategy. The Phase 1A procurement strategy reintroduces competition for National Security Space launch services.
The Air Force Space Command’s Space and Missile Systems Center, located at the Los Angeles Air Force Base, California, is the U.S. Air Force’s center of excellence for acquiring and developing military space systems. Its portfolio includes the Global Positioning System, military satellite communications, defense meteorological satellites, space launch and range systems, satellite control networks, space based infrared systems, and space situational awareness capabilities.