The Air Force awarded eight companies the chance to compete for up to $986 million in launch services as part of the the Orbital Service Program (OSP)-4 effort to rapidly launch small- to medium-sized payloads into space.

The companies include Space X; Xbow Launch Systems, Inc.; Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems [NOC]; Firefly Aerospace; United Launch Alliance – a joint launch venture between Boeing [BA] and Lockheed Martin [LMT]; Aevum Inc.; Vox Space; and Rocket Lab. Nine offers were received, according to the Oct. 10 contract notice.

The multiple-award, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, firm-fixed-price contract for OSP-4 includes launch services for about 20 missions involving payloads greater than 400 pounds, to take place over a nine-year period. It replaces the Air Force’s OSP-3 contract that expires next month. The service awarded four five-year OSP-3 contracts in 2012 to Space X, Lockheed Martin Space Systems and Orbital ATK, now Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems.

Requirements include the ability to take 400 pounds of payload up to Low-Earth Orbit or up to 8,000 pounds up to Geostationary Orbit with launches scheduled within 12-24 months of contract award. Work will be performed at the contractor facilities and a variety of government launch sites, depending on mission requirements.

“The contract seeks to capitalize on the emerging small launch providers while providing dedicated and primary launch services to the Department of Defense and other government agencies,” the notice said. The service released a draft request for proposals (RFP) in May and a final RFP in August.

Fiscal 2019 space procurement funds in the amount of $50,000 were obligated at time of award. The Space and Missile Systems Center at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, is the contracting activity.