SpaceX Receives Air Force Approval For Military Launches

This spring has been an important one for SpaceX. Elon Musk’s space flight company landed its Falcon 9 rocket on a barge (though a little too hard) and then completed a successful abort test for the Dragon capsule. So far, the spotlight has generally been on what SpaceX can do for our astronauts at the International Space Station (ISS). Today, the U.S. Air Force announced that it has certified SpaceX for “national security space launch missions.”

SpaceX is cleared for Air Force security projects

The announcement was made by Lieutenant General Samuel Greaves, Commander of the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC). “The SpaceX and SMC teams have worked hard to achieve certification,” Greaves said in a statement. “And we’re also maintaining our spaceflight worthiness process supporting the National Security Space missions. Our intent is to promote the viability of multiple EELV (Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle)-class launch providers as soon as feasible.”

The move gives SpaceX the opportunity to compete for security projects requiring spaceflight when the Air Force or Department of Defense seek bidders. Costs associated with spaceflight are expected to drop as companies compete for government business, but the Air Force has also had invest more than $60 million in the certification process, which involved more than 700 audits, 125 certification criteria, and 3 certification flight demonstrations.


Although conspiracy theorists will have a field day with the news of the SpaceX certification, the company’s first chance to compete will be far from something that would appear in a Bond movie. The first project is expected to involve launch services for GPS III technology.