SpaceX Wins Opportunity to Compete for Rocket Launches
A federal court has decided to support entrepreneur Elon Musk's bid to challenge the top competitors in the space business, stopping Boeing and Lockheed Martin in their tracks from buying a piece of Russian-made rocket hardware that is necessary for their plans.
The injunction, which was issued on Wednesday, agrees with Musk on the accusation that Boeing and Lockheed are violating White House trade restrictions against Russia when purchasing RD-180 rockets.
Musk sued the United States over their improper decision to grant the two companies' space partnership, known as United Launch Alliance, a contract for 36 rocket launches, while also excluding SpaceX for a chance to compete for the job.
The Russian firm named NPO Energomash makes the engines that United Launch Alliance needs to put American satellites in orbit.
The only issue is, the Obama administration has made NPO Energomash one of their targets of U.S. sanctions. That sanction therefore made it illegal for them to sell their engines to ULA, stopping Rogozin from benefitting from U.S. transactions with the Russians over space-launch engines.
In response to the sanction, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin advised that NASA find an alternative method of reaching the international space station.
"ULA is deeply concerned with this ruling and we will work closely with the Department of Justice to resolve the injunction expeditiously," ULA said in a statement. "SpaceX's attempt to disrupt a national security launch contract so long after the award ignores the potential implications to our national security and our nation's ability to put Americans on board the International Space Station."
This is a big win for SpaceX, and quite the loss for ULA. The contract at issue was worth as much as $9.5 billion and by 2030, the Defense Department plans to spend a further $70 billion on space launches.