Earth from space by night. Photo: NASA

The U.S. Space Force has awarded United Launch Alliance and SpaceX hundreds of millions of dollars to fly national security payloads to space in the coming years.

Why it matters: The money provided by these competitive government contracts keeps space companies in business and flying to orbit regularly.

Details: ULA will receive the bulk of the funds, with $337 million going to the company for two missions expected to launch in 2022.

  • SpaceX will receive $316 million for one mission launching in 2022.
  • It's not yet clear what the nature of these missions will be.
  • "We're excited about the new technology that's being brought into launch," William Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, said during a press call. "We don't think this is the last round of innovation that we're going to see."

The big picture: SpaceX and ULA weren't the only companies competing for this award. Blue Origin and Northrop Grumman also put in bids but didn't receive funds in this round.

  • This type of government money is particularly important for space companies right now as the coronavirus pandemic has caused some other sources of business to contract.

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Sep 23, 2020 - Science

Blue Origin to launch rocket Thursday

New Shepard taking flight. Photo: Blue Origin

Blue Origin is planning to launch its 13th uncrewed flight of its suborbital New Shepard system on Thursday, the Jeff Bezos-founded company announced.

Why it matters: The flight will mark the first New Shepard test of 2020. This system last flew in December 2019.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Sep 23, 2020 - Science

Private companies are aiming for the International Space Station

The International Space Station. Photo: NASA

The International Space Station is open for business and private companies are making expensive plans to capitalize on it.

Why it matters: This commercialization effort by NASA is part of the agency's broader goals to welcome a broad swath of private enterprises to space to boost an economy in low-Earth orbit that will make NASA a buyer among many users instead of a sole provider.

Mike Allen, author of AM
1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Biden pushes unity message in new TV wave

A fresh Joe Biden ad, "New Start," signals an effort by his campaign to make unity a central theme, underscoring a new passage in his stump speech that says he won't be a president just for Democrats but for all Americans.

What he's saying: The ad — which began Friday night, and is a follow-up to "Fresh Start" — draws from a Biden speech earlier in the week in Manitowoc, Wisconsin:

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