Air Force to decide SpaceX certification on December 1

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The competition heats up: The Air Force has set December 1 for its deadline for certifying SpaceX as qualified to launch military satellites.

“I root for SpaceX to come into the competition,” Gen. John Hyten, head of Air Force Space Command, said during a speech Tuesday at the Air Force Association’s annual conference. But he warned that the company may not be ready in time. “The most important thing for this nation is assured access to space that works all the time,” he said. “That’s why the certification for SpaceX, hopefully by Dec. 1, is a big event. But if they’re not ready on Dec. 1, we have to stand up and say that, and that’s going to be difficult because I want competition.”

It sounds like the Air Force is setting this date as when it will decide one way or the other, regardless of anything SpaceX has done. I also suspect that, because of politics, this decision will hinge on what NASA decides today concerning its commercial crew contract.


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