Elon Musk’s SpaceX has won a competitive contract to conduct secret national security launches for the US military, according to a US Air Force announcement.
It’s a well-paid privilege for the billionaire’s company at $316m (£241m) and one that the private spaceflight company has battled for too – having twice sued the US military after previously being denied similar contracts.
One launch has been confirmed for 2022, and the Pentagon expects it will use SpaceX for a dozen more missions up until 2026, but no details will be released about the classified payloads.
The contract for phase two of the National Security Space Launch (NSSL) programme will cover 40% of missions for the US Space Force.
The other 60% of launches will be handled, for $337m (£257m), by the United Launch Alliance – a joint venture between Boeing and