SpaceX asks court to make U.S. Air Force space launch missions more competitive

SpaceX is filing a legal challenge to the U.S. Air Force's latest Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) contract with United Launch Alliance, asking that it be opened to competitive bids.

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SpaceX (Hawthorne, Calif., USA) announced on April 25 that it is filing a legal challenge to the U.S. Air Force’s latest Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) contract with United Launch Alliance (ULA, Centennial, Colo., USA), a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin. SpaceX argues that the long-­term contract, which guarantees the purchase of 36 rocket cores from ULA to be used in national security launches, was granted to ULA on a sole­-source basis without competition from other launch providers. SpaceX is seeking the right to compete for some of these same launches.

“This exclusive deal unnecessarily costs U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars and defers meaningful free competition for years to come,” says Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO and chief designer. “We are simply asking that SpaceX and any other qualified domestic launch providers be allowed to compete in the EELV program for any and all missions that they could launch.”

SpaceX currently provides launch services for NASA as well as numerous commercial customers. SpaceX is seeking a legal determination that would open certain launches under the sole­source contract to competition. The official protest document is available www.freedomtolaunch.com and will be filed with the United States Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C.