The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its report today on the Air Force's Launch Services New Entrant Certification Guide (NECG).
The NECG was implemented as part of the Air Force's efforts to introduce competition into its Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program because of significant price increases for launch services, the emergence of viable alternative launch providers and to bolster the U.S. launch industrial base.
The GAO set two primary objectives in completing its report:
1. How does the Air Force plan to implement its New Entrant Certification Guide?
2. What are new entrant perspectives on becoming certified under the New Entrant Certification Guide?
The GAO found that "while potential new entrants stated that they are generally satisfied with the Air Force's efforts to implement the Guide, they identified several challenges to certification, as well as perceived advantages afforded to the incumbent launch provider."
Challenges identified by new entrants included:
1. Lack of launch opportunities to foster certification.
2. Unanticipated requirements changes.
3. Minimum 20,000 lb lift requirement to low earth orbit (LEO).
4. Inflexibility of launch and range site options.
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