Private company SpaceX has received certified approval from the US to send military and spy satellites into space.
The decision comes after two years of reviews by the US Air Force, and founder Elon Musk described it as an “important step” in bringing competition to National Security Space launch.
“We thank the Air Force for its confidence in us and look forward to serving it well,” he said in a statement. Previously these US government launches were monopolised by a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing.
Space X has become a serious competitor in the space industry recently, having already won a Nasa contract to take astronauts and cargo to and from the International Space Station.
The company's first opportunity to compete for business from the US military will arrive in June, when there will be a request for proposal GPS III launch services.
"This is a very important milestone for the Air Force and the Department of Defense," Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James said in a statement.
"SpaceX's emergence as a viable commercial launch provider provides the opportunity to compete launch services for the first time in almost a decade. Ultimately, leveraging of the commercial space market drives down cost to the American taxpayer and improves our military's resiliency."