May 8, 2015 – The Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) and Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) have formally amended the Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) between the two organizations for Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) Certification of the Falcon 9 Launch System.
These updates incorporated lessons learned from the on-going certification process and will streamline the execution of the certification process. The amended CRADA incorporates all of the Independent Review Committee’s recommendations, including clarification that the SMC Commander, as the Certifying Official, has the authority to grant certification based on a New Entrant’s demonstrated capability to design, produce, qualify, and deliver their launch system.
Additionally, New Entrants will provide future mission assurance support required to deliver National Security Space (NSS) payloads to specific orbits on a specific schedule with a specific level of risk.
Among other things, these changes allow SpaceX certification with some open work, provided there are jointly approved handling plans in place for work to support potential NSS mission processing timelines.
“I am very pleased with all we have accomplished. The updated CRADA captures important lessons learned along the way about the process and allows the flexibility to certify SpaceX when ready, while maintaining our ‘laser focus on mission success’,” said Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves, Commander, SMC.
“SpaceX welcomes these actions,” said Gwynne Shotwell, President & Chief Operating Officer, SpaceX. “We look forward to completing the certification process and competing for EELV missions.”
Certification of the Falcon 9 Launch System (with the Falcon 9 v1.1 as the baseline configuration) is expected no later than June 2015. Both SpaceX and the Air Force see these CRADA modifications as a positive step towards strengthening U.S. national security through continued competition in the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program.