SpaceX lands Air Force Falcon Heavy launch contract

SpaceX's strongest rocket gets a thumbs-up from the US Air Force.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
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SpaceX shows off the Falcon Heavy rocket on the launchpad.


SpaceX is getting deeper into the national security game, and this time it's bringing its biggest rocket.

The US Air Force announced on Thursday it has awarded the company a $130 million (£98 million, AU$175 million) contract for launch services. 

SpaceX 's Falcon Heavy is set to deliver the Air Force Space Command (AFSPC)-52 satellite to orbit in 2020. This is a vote of confidence in the company's most powerful rocket system, which it successfully demonstrated in February by launching founder Elon Musk 's personal Tesla Roadster into space. 

The Air Force says the contract will provide a "total launch solution for this mission, which includes launch vehicle production, mission integration and launch operations." The mission is scheduled to launch from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

"On behalf of all of our employees, I want to thank the Air Force for certifying Falcon Heavy, awarding us this critically important mission, and for their trust and confidence in our company," SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said in a statement.   

The Air Force already has a contract in place with SpaceX competitor United Launch Allliance to deliver two other satellites into orbit.

The new contract further solidifies SpaceX's involvement with the Air Force. The company reportedly launched a classified "space plane" drone in late 2017 using a Falcon 9 rocket and received a contract in March to launch three GPS satellites.

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