Blue Origin + Stoke Space Selected by U.S. Space Force to Compete for Small Satellite Missions

By Urban Koi – Space Systems Engineering, Johns Hopkins University

The U.S. Space Force announced that Blue Origin and Stoke Space are now eligible launch providers under the Orbital Services Program-4 (OSP-4) contract. This action strives to amplify the agility and competitive edge of short-turnaround small-satellite missions.

OSP-4 is an Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract that was established by the U.S. Air Force in 2019, which aims to leverage emerging commercial launch capabilities. The OSP-4 agreement enables the swift acquisition of indefinite launch supplies and services to meet mission requirements, which is incredibly advantageous in the rapidly evolving commercial space industry.

A key mission of the Space Force is to protect the confidentiality, availability, and integrity of cyber systems. From satellites and GPS-tracking technology to missile guidance systems and intelligence networks, cyber operations remain a vital component to the Space Force Cybersecurity department to ensure all missions are fully secured, planned, and executed.

“The OSP-4 contract has been a valuable arrow in the quiver of the Space Force’s full spectrum launch arsenal since 2019, serving as a complement to the National Security Space Launch program,” said Lt. Col. Justin Beltz, Chief of SSC’s Small Launch and Targets Division. “Small launch brings a great deal of responsiveness and flexibility that opens exciting possibilities for future missions. There have been both opportunities and challenges in the small launch industry over the past couple of years, which make it more important than ever that we bring in emerging industry solutions. OSP-4 launches like last year’s groundbreaking VICTUS NOX mission highlight how impactful these capabilities can be.”

Blue Origin’s admittance into OSP-4 comes after being selected for the National Security Space Launch Phase 3 Lane 1 procurement. The Space Force anticipates that Blue Origin will launch the New Glenn rocket sometime within the next year. Stoke Space (a new candidate founded in 2020) has made leaps with the first hot-fire test of its reusable rocket engine. The company plans to launch its first orbital test in 2025.

The Space Systems Command (SSC) Media Release states, “SSC is the U.S. Space Force’s field command responsible for acquiring and delivering resilient war fighting capabilities to protect our nation’s strategic advantage in and from space. SSC manages a $15.6 billion space acquisition budget for the DoD and works in partnership with joint forces, industry, government agencies, and academic and allied organizations to accelerate innovation and outpace emerging threats. Our actions today are making the world a better space for tomorrow.”

Blue Origin and Stoke Space join 10 other launch providers on the OSP-4 contract: ABL Space Systems, Aevum, Astra, Firefly Aerospace, Northrop Grumman, Relativity Space, Rocket Lab, SpaceX, United Launch Alliance and X-Bow. 

Source: Blue Origin + Stoke Space Selected by US Space Force | SpaceNews