The Space Force issued the certification in June, but didn’t disclose the approval until now. SpaceX can carry spy satellites aboard Falcon 9 rockets, but they don’t always have the power needed for heavier payloads. The first Falcon Heavy-based launch is expected sometime between October and December, when SpaceX will deliver a National Reconnaissance Office satellite.
This could represent a significant if temporary blow to rival rocket producers. The Boeing and Lockheed-Martin joint venture United Launch Alliance still hasn’t received similar approval for a version of its Vulcan rocket using Blue Origin motors. Air Force officials are still reviewing the approach to 39 national security launches slated for fiscal 2025 through 2027. SpaceX isn’t guaranteed to win business that would otherwise go to ULA, but its earlier certification could influence any decisions.
All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.