Space Exploration Technologies Corp (SpaceX) has been awarded a modification for an earlier awarded contract for the development of the Raptor rocket propulsion system prototype for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program.
The contract modification, valued around $40 million, was awarded by the Launch Systems Enterprise Directorate of the Space and Missile Systems Center situated at Los Angeles Air Force Base, California.
The contract work will be performed at NASA Stennis Space Center, Mississippi; Hawthorne, California; McGregor, Texas; and Los Angeles AFB, California; and is expected to be completed by April 30, 2018.
Raptor prototype upper-stage engine
Raptor prototype upper-stage engine is a bipropellant rocket engine being developed by SpaceX for U.S. Air Force (USAF).
The upper-stage prototype is to use the full-flow staged combustion engine cycle and same methalox propellants of the Raptor rocket engine that SpaceX has been developing since at least 2009.
In January 2016, USAF awarded a US$33.6 million development contract to SpaceX to develop a prototype version of its methane-fueled reusable Raptor engine for use on the upper stage of the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launch vehicles.
The prototype is expected to complete testing in 2018.
Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV)
Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) is an expendable launch system program of the United States Air Force (USAF), intended to assure access to space for Department of Defense and other United States government payloads.
The program, which began in the 1990s with the goal of making government space launches more affordable and reliable, resulted in the development of two launch systems, Delta IV and Atlas V.
These launch systems were the primary methods for launching U.S. military satellites until they were joined by the SpaceX Falcon 9.
The USAF plans to use the EELV family of launch vehicles until at least 2030.