According to comments from a RUAG spokesman to a member of the space industry, the leading aerospace supplier may have finally reached an agreement with SpaceX to produce a handful of larger payload fairings for future launches of Falcon 9 and Heavy.
In the likely event that SpaceX is one of two contractors to receive part of several dozen US military launch contracts next year, the company must be able to meet niche requirements, including accommodating unusually large military satellites , These satellites can be so high that SpaceX's own payload fairing – which is usually in the middle of the crowd compared to competitors' offerings ̵
SpaceX has three obvious answers: Designing and building a completely new variant of its universal model Falcon fairings, buy the required fairings from an established supplier or Complete competitions that require this. The latter option is instantly untenable, as it could well mean that the entire US military competition, as Phase 2 of the National Security Space Launch Program (NSSL, formerly EELV) for Launch Services Procurement (LSP) is called failed.
For dubious reasons, the US Air Force (USAF) has structured the NSSL Phase 2 acquisition in such a way that, despite four possible competitors, only two contracts will be awarded on completion. The approximately 30 start-up contracts to be won would be split 60:40 between the two winners, so that two competitors would be completely empty. In short, leaving the Phase 2 competition could mean losing either one or two dozen contracts worth at least $ 1 to $ 2 billion, depending on the side of the 60:40 split.
After some recent comments and developments, SpaceX had the opportunity to purchase higher panels from an industrial supplier. As it turns out, the European company RUAG has effectively conquered the Western missile cladding market. SpaceX is the only Western startup company currently building its own disguise. RUAG builds panels for the Ariane 5 and Vega rockets from Arianespace and for the Atlas V from ULA. In addition, RUAG will build panels for the next-gen rockets of both companies – Arianespace Ariane 6 and Vulcan from ULA – and fairings for a range of smaller launch vehicles
Although ULA's RUAG-made Atlas V fairing is technically narrower than the 5.2-meter (17-ft) SpaceX fairing, Atlas V's largest fairing is significantly higher carries payloads up to 16.5 m (54 ft). Big compared to 11m (36ft) for Falcon 9 and Heavy. Given that only a tiny portion of the military spacecraft needs panels that are so high, SpaceX does not appear to be interested in changing its own trim design and production equipment to allow for 20 to 30% elongation.
This is probably partly due to the fact that one of SpaceX's three NSSL Phase 2 competitors – Northrop Grumman (Omega), Blue Origin (New Glenn), and ULA (Vulcan) – guaranteed hundreds of slots after winning one of two available slots Receives millions of dollars in development funds (60% or 40% of the contracts). On the other hand, SpaceX will not receive such funding, although in LSP Phase 2 it will have to meet the same stringent USAF requirements. Remarkably, Congressman Adam Smith has been able to include a clause in the Defense Permitting Act for the 2020 fiscal year that could allow up to $ 500 payout to SpaceX if the company is one of the two Phase 2 winners.
Despite this potential inflow of infrastructure-related resources, SpaceX appears to be still pursuing higher Falcon disguises from RUAG, possibly as a substitute for the case that the company is neither one of the two Phase 2 winners or I am not able to use part of the $ 500 million secured by Rep. Smith to develop its own stretch disguise.
On August 12, SpaceX – along with Blue Origin, ULA, and NGIS – submitted bids for NSSL Phase 2 launch services that confirm that all Four companies will actually run for contracts. The USAF is unlikely to announce the results of this competition until 2020. Teslarati has asked SpaceX for a comment and will update this article if something can be added. The Ground Perspectives and Unique Insights into SpaceX's Rocket Launch and Recovery Processes .