COLORADO SPRINGS — Blue Origin wants the U.S. Air Force to wait until 2021 before picking the two companies it intends use for launching critical military satellites in the decade ahead.
The Air Force, however, aims to solicit proposals this spring and choose its two preferred launch providers in 2020 — perhaps a year or more before the new rockets that the Air Force is fostering at Blue Origin, United Launch Alliance and Northrop Grumman make their first flights.
All three companies were chosen in October by the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center to share $2.3 billion in so-called Launch Service Agreement (LSA) funding to support development of next-generation rockets capable of meeting the military’s satellite launch needs.
The Air Force said last fall that all three LSA winners plus SpaceX would be required to submit new proposals in 2019 if they want to be among the two providers the Air Force intends to select in 2020 to split up to 25 future launch contracts.
The Air Force intends to call for those proposals in the coming weeks with a solicitation known as the Phase 2 Launch Service Procurement (LSP) that would give Blue Origin ...