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Space Systems Command releases National Security Space Launch Phase 3 Final Requests For Proposals

Space Systems Command releases National Security Space Launch Phase 3 Final Requests For Proposals

Space Systems Command (SSC) released the final National Security Space Launch (NSSL) Phase 3 Requests for Proposals (RFP). SSC received and incorporated industry comments from two draft RFPs and updated its dual-lane acquisition approach. Proposals are due by Dec. 15, 2023.

The final RFP affirms the inclusion of a third Lane 2 provider, and annual on-ramping opportunities in Lane 1. These aspects were chosen to fortify assured access to space by strengthening the industrial base and increasing the availability of reliable space launches for NSSL programs in a constrained market.

“Our Phase 3 strategy provides maximum opportunity for emerging and experienced launch service providers alike to participate in the NSSL program and provide our nation with the most robust launch capability we have ever possessed. By the end of the Phase 3 we will have at least three providers fully capable of meeting all NSSL requirements, as well as a full complement of launch service providers using systems designed for more risk-tolerant space vehicles launching to traditionally commercial orbits,” said Col. Douglas Pentecost, Assured Access to Space deputy program executive officer. “The resiliency and affordability of this approach will benefit our growing domestic launch industry and provide the capability, supply chain stability, capacity, and launch efficiency needed for our NSS missions. This transformative strategy ensures our ability to secure our nation’s interests by creating a more resilient space architecture through proliferation, disaggregation, and orbital diversity.”

The missions included in NSSL Phase 3 will be procured and launched under a dual-lane approach. Lane 1 is a multiple award Firm Fixed Price (FFP) Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract open to all eligible bidders. This lane includes the opportunity for annual on-ramping for emerging providers as they demonstrate successful launch systems.

Lane 1 is designed for more risk-tolerant space vehicles launching to traditional commercial orbits. Therefore, the USSF is tailoring its mission assurance level to reflect the more risk-tolerant space vehicles to achieve greater savings and access to diverse launch systems.

In Lane 2, three launch service providers will be competitively awarded FFP Indefinite Delivery Requirements (IDR) contracts. These contracts will be awarded to the best value, next best value, and third best value launch service providers who meet all NSSL orbits and unique mission capabilities. The best value and next best value launch providers will split approximately 42 missions across five years (FY25 to FY29) along a 60 percent and 40 percent mission share ratio. The third best value provider will receive up to seven select Lane 2 missions beginning as early as Order Year two.

Lane 2 contracts will include missions that require full mission assurance with SSC-certified launch vehicles. The payloads included in Lane 2 require launches to more stressing orbits, necessitating higher performance launch systems, and complex security and integration requirements. Lane 2 also includes annual Launch Service Support to cover NSS-unique costs.

“As we continue to drive speed in our acquisitions, NSSL Phase 3 is critical to our ability to put new space capabilities on orbit quickly. I am extremely proud of the SSC team and the innovative work they have done to define a new dual-lane approach to launch, and the addition of a third launch service provider in Lane 2,” stated the Honorable Frank Calvelli, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Space Acquisition and Integration. “This next phase of the NSSL acquisition will serve the Nation well and allow us to further transform our space capabilities to outpace our competitors.”

Phase 3 proposals are due by Dec. 15, 2023 with award for the Lane 1 base IDIQ planned for Spring 2024 and Lane 2 IDR contracts targeted for Fall 2024.

SSC is the U.S. Space Force’s field command responsible for acquiring and delivering resilient war fighting capabilities to protect our nation’s strategic advantage in and from space. SSC manages a $15 billion space acquisition budget for the DoD and works in partnership with joint forces, industry, government agencies, and academic and allied organizations to accelerate innovation and outpace emerging threats. Our actions today are making the world a better space for tomorrow.

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