Air Force establishes National Security Space Launch program

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  • Space and Missile Systems Center Public Affairs

The Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center’s Launch Enterprise Systems Directorate Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program name was officially changed to the National Security Space Launch program today.

The 2019 National Defense Authorization Act directed the name change from EELV to NSSL effective March 1, to reflect consideration of both reusable and expendable launch vehicles future solicitations.

In 1994, the NDAA directed the DoD to develop a modernization plan for space launch capabilities. In response, the Air Force initiated the Space Launch Modernization Plan, also known as the Moorman Study which identified options and cost for the future of space launch. On Aug. 5, 1994, President Clinton signed a National Space Transportation Policy as a partial response to assigning responsibility for expendable launch vehicles to the DoD. The final result was SMC’s EELV program to develop a family of launch vehicles for medium to heavy payloads.

“As the NSSL program embarks on a new chapter making launch services more agile and effective for the warfighter, it honors over twenty-five years of EELV history,” said Col. Robert Bongiovi, director of SMC’s Launch Enterprise Directorate. “Twenty five years later, the program boasts a remarkable legacy of the successful launches of 75 National Security Space missions, placing more than $50 billion of space warfighting assets on orbit.”

The NSSL program is designed to continue to procure affordable National Security Space launch services, maintain assured access to space, and ensure mission success with viable domestic launch service providers. The program is driven to  provide launch flexibility that meets warfighter needs while leveraging the robust U.S. commercial launch industry, which has grown significantly during the past five to seven years.

“As NSSL commences, it is focused steadfastly on the future as this is one of the most critical times in the national security space history,” said Bongiovi. “The program is committed to 100 percent mission success and providing the most innovative, flexible, and affordable services to meet National Security Space mission needs and maintain U.S. dominance in space.”

Air Force Space Command's Space and Missile Systems Center, located at the Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, California, is the U.S. Air Force's center of excellence for acquiring and developing military space systems. Its portfolio includes the global positioning systems, military satellite communications, defense meteorological satellites, space launch and range systems, satellite control networks, space based infrared systems, space situational awareness capabilities, and space superiority.


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