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SpaceX, the Elon Musk-Helmed Company that officially made its partially reusable Falcon Heavy the World's Strongest Rocket at the beginning of the year [19659003] Per Verge Air Force announced this week over $ 130 million to bring their AFSPC-52 satellite into orbit Space 2020 will benefit SpaceX and the Boeing-Lockheed Martin joint venture and United Launch Alliance's only rival to use a Delta-4 rocket. According to Space News the average cost of a Delta 4 launch is around $ 350 million, which may explain why the Air Force chooses the relatively untried Falcon Heavy – it's much cheaper.

As far as Verge notes, this far lower price probably facilitated the Air Force's decision, even after SpaceX struggled to allow the Falcon 9 to be used for military purposes:

The readiness of the United States Air Force (USAF) The new rocket is such a departure from the lengthy process that SpaceX went through to get its Falcon 9 rocket certified for military operations . SpaceX spent at least $ 60 million two years and filed a lawsuit against the USAF to obtain military certification for the Falcon 9. (The lawsuit was dropped a few months prior to certification.)

This is the fifth mission added to the Falcon Heavy Manifesto after CNN Money . These include an Air Force STP-2 demonstration mission and a commercial launch of Arabsat scheduled for this year while fleet operators Intelsat, Viasat and Inmarsat have launch options they have not yet
.

So SpaceX is likely to have some time to continue working on the Falcon Heavy before it can launch the Air Force's secret cargo. Much is at stake, Musk says the system costs half a billion dollars . An earlier Falcon 9 mission to launch the classified multi-billion satellite Zuma for the Luftwaffe went awry with the Lost Cargo although later investigations revealed that sloppy work by Northrop Grumman and one of his subcontractors ] was to blame . Two Falcon 9 have exploded also .

"SpaceX is honored by the Falcon Heavy's selection by the Air Force for launching the award-winning AFSPC 52 mission," said SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell told CNN Money in a statement. "SpaceX is pleased to continue providing the US taxpayer with the most cost-effective and reliable launch services for vital national security space missions."

[ The Verge / CNN Money ] [19659011]

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