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SpaceX launch certification to face review by Pentagon watchdog

In a February 6, 2018 file photo, the crowd cheers at Playalinda Beach in the Canaveral National Seashore, just north of the Kennedy Space Center, during the successful launch of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket.

JOE BURBANK, ORLANDO SENTINEL/TNS

By TONY CAPACCIO | Bloomberg | Published: February 12, 2019

WASHINGTON (Tribune News Service) — The Pentagon’s inspector general said it will begin an evaluation of the Air Force’s certification of SpaceX’s primary launch vehicles.

The Air Force’s certification of SpaceX in 2015 allowed the company Elon Musk founded to take on military payloads, bringing fresh competition to the field of space launches. At the time, Musk said he was getting into the launch business in part to end a monopoly on military space launches.

“Our objective is to determine whether the U.S. Air Force complied with the Launch Services New Entrant Certification Guide when certifying the launch system design for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle-class SpaceX Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launch vehicles,” the inspector general said in a memo to Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson published on Monday.

The review will begin this month, the memo said, and will be undertaken at the Space and Missile Systems Center in El Segundo, Calif.

The inspector general’s memo to Wilson was signed by Mark Roark, deputy for intelligence and special program assessments, and didn’t give a reason for what prompted the evaluation. Bruce Anderson, a spokesman for the inspector general, didn’t have an immediate comment as to what led to the evaluation.

SpaceX officials didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment after normal business hours.

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