SpaceX Files Protest Against U.S. Air Force Space Launch Monopoly
April 25, 2014 11:02 PM
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SpaceX CEO Elon Musk wants to break up a space 'monopoly' in which the U.S. Air Force relies on Boeing and Lockheed Martin to launch military craft into space
CEO Elon Musk announced that his company is in the process of filing a protest against the United States Air Force, targeting the military branch’s contracting procedures, with the case slated for the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.
Specifically, Musk says the Air Force’s purchase of 36 Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles (EELV), which is headed by the United Launch Alliance as the core providers of the launches, “blocks companies like SpaceX for competing for national security launches. We feel that this is not right. National security launches should be competitive and not sole-sourced.”
President Barack Obama and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tour the Falcon 9 launch site in 2010.
United Launch Alliance
is a joint partnership between Boeing and Lockheed Martin, and remains the only company with clearance to launch military payloads into space for the U.S. government. Instead of coming out and just saying SpaceX should be awarded launch rights, Musk wants his company to have a fair crack at earning the right to at least compete for these launches.
It’s a curious time for SpaceX, NASA, and the U.S. military – the retirement of the NASA space shuttle left the U.S. reliant on Russia for space transportation – but political tensions, including sanctions against Russia,
are further complicating the matter
. However, SpaceX successfully traveled to the International Space Station on four separate occasions, so it clearly wants to ensure it has ample opportunities for space launches.
Furthermore, Musk said using SpaceX could save taxpayers up to $1 billion, making it a cheaper method than relying on Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
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RE: How many $$s ?
4/27/2014 10:09:27 AM
In anyone is interested, here is the senate hearing about the EELV program, with Musk, the CEO of ULA, a professor, and various senators all talking about contract, cost, etc. It was one month ago, and rather fascinating:
Note the senator from Alabama sucking up to ULA...
Thanks to M'n'M for making me aware of Musk's press conference. I'd been waiting for that after reading all the updates on the CRS-3 mission a week ago. Here it is:
It's where we first find out about SpaceX offering $90M per launch vs. ULA's $380M/launch cost.
So here's the interesting thing Musk tells us: The sole-sourced EELV contract was signed back in December, but that was held back from public disclosure
until one day after the above hearing.
I think Jason would love writing an op-ed about it all, as it's about technology, space, gov't contracts, the Air Force, and gov't favoritism all in rolled into one.
RE: How many $$s ?
4/27/2014 10:10:43 AM
EDIT: Sorry, a little posting error. The top link is where we first find out about the costs per launch.
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