Elon Musk's SpaceX may join forces with the U.S. government as early as 2018 in a joint satellite launching venture.
At this time, after United Launch Alliance, a partnership between Lockheed Martin and Boeing, withdrew its bid for a U.S. Air Force global positioning satellite supplier contract, SpaceX remains the only candidate still in the running for the job. United Launch Alliance has been providing these types of launches since 2006, but their 10-year government contract is nearing its expiration date. One of the major setbacks faced by ULA recently was the new Pentagon ban on Russian RD-180 rocket engines, often used by ULA in the past.
SpaceX, in turn, is able to provide a much more cost-effective alternative for the missions. According to company president Gwynne Shotwell, although government-run missions are usually much costlier than private expeditions, SpaceX would still be able to carry out government-sponsored launches for under $100 million (compared to $160 million charged by ULA for Atlas V rocket missions).