Air Force wants a long look at commercial spacecraft

Air Force set to recruit commercial spacecraft developers

The US Air Force is preparing to take a long look at how commercial space technology can help it better operate in the cosmos.

The Air Force today said it will host a space test program meeting next week ahead of expected contract offerings, or Broad Agency Announcements looking to recruit commercial space providers.

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From the Air Force: The Space Test Program looks to study the feasibility of using commercial capabilities to meet selected military launch needs for rapid and lower cost alternatives. Interest is in exploring possibilities of launches for individual Space Vehicles as payloads and Hosted Payloads. Space Vehicle Payloads (SVPs) are complete spacecraft in need of launch. Hosted Payloads are experiments needing a space vehicle, integration and testing, launch, and on-orbit operations support through the host space vehicle.

The Broad Agency Announcement study will be a proof of concept, demonstrating launch of the Space Vehicle Payloads and act as a pathfinder for possible future contract efforts once this study is complete and the feasibility is fully and successfully demonstrated, the Air Force said.

The purpose of the meetings are to provide interested companies with an overview of specific areas of interest, promote an early exchange of information, and provide an opportunity for both the government and industry to gather more information prior to the request for studies that will be published on the Federal Business Opportunity web site, the Air Force stated. Industry Day sessions will be held at Kirtland Air Force Base, home to the Air Force's Space Development and Test Wing, on May 6 and another date yet to be determined.

NASA you may recall is leaning heavily on commercial space technology for the future.  It recently split almost $270 million amongst Blue Origin, Sierra Nevada, SpaceX and Boeing for development of commercial spaceships or carry astronauts to low-Earth orbit and the International Space Station.

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