On 14 March, SpaceX announced they had won a US$96.5 million contract, to use its Falcon 9 rocket for the launch of the third US Air Force GPS IIIA spacecraft in February 2019. These “Batch A” spacecraft are currently in development at Lockheed Martin. The spacecraft, known as GPS IIIA-3, represents the third EELV (Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle) contract offered for these spacecraft and the second won by the Hawthorne, California, based newcomer.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 became EELV certified May 2015, placing it in direct competition with current government-launch monopoly holder ULA (United Launch Alliance). SpaceX then went on to win the launch contract for the second GPS IIIA in April 2016.
Under the terms of its EELV certification SpaceX is not allowed to use “flight-tested” – previously flown – stages for government launches. The first flight using a previously flown reusable first stage is that of SES-10, is currently expected to take place at the end of March.