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posted by martyb on Thursday May 23 2019, @01:50AM   Printer-friendly
from the dept.

Now we know why SpaceX is suing the US government

SpaceX's rivals just blew the cover off the rocket company's secretive lawsuit against the US government. Blue Origin, Northrop Grumman (NOC) and United Launch Alliance all received Air Force contracts in October in response to the government's request for Launch Service Agreement proposals, or LSAs, which are worth hundreds of millions of dollars. SpaceX did not receive an LSA contract. Those awards are at the heart of SpaceX's new lawsuit, and they want to be involved in the proceedings to protect their interests, according to documents filed Tuesday and Wednesday.

[...] The Air Force developed the LSA to help awardees develop massive new rockets that could one day be capable of launching national security payloads for the military. ULA was promised up to $967 million for its forthcoming Vulcan Centaur rocket. Northrop Grumman, which is building a launch vehicle called OmegA, will receive up to $792 million. And Blue Origin will get $500 million for its New Glenn rocket. The awards, however, do not guarantee that the new rockets will one day win military launch contracts, which are extremely lucrative and coveted in the space industry.

[...] SpaceX, like the other companies, is also developing a new launch vehicle: It's called Starship and Super Heavy, a rocket and spaceship system that Musk has described as the technology that will allow humans to colonize Mars. Theoretically, the rocket could be used to help launch heavy military payloads into orbit as well.

The redacted SpaceX complaint posted Wednesday states that the company's proposal asked for money to support all three of [its] rockets — the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy, which are already operational, and Starship. But officials determined that including Starship would render "the entire SpaceX portfolio the 'highest risk'" of all the options. SpaceX called that claim "unreasonable," according to the complaint. "The Agency wrongly awarded LSAs to a portfolio of three unproven rockets based on unstated metrics, unequal treatment under the procurement criteria, and opaque industrial planning," SpaceX alleged.

Also at Space News, CNBC, and Reuters.

Previously: The Military Chooses Which Rockets It Wants Built for the Next Decade
Blue Origin Urges U.S. Air Force to Delay Launch Provider Decision

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  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 23 2019, @02:29AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 23 2019, @02:29AM (#846495)

    IIRC, SpaceX had to sue to be allowed to bid on the ISS supply contract. This is just more of the same, the brass want their palms greased.

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  • (Score: 3, Informative) by takyon on Thursday May 23 2019, @02:40AM

    by takyon (881) <> on Thursday May 23 2019, @02:40AM (#846497) Journal

    The previous lawsuit was related to the Air Force's EELV [] program:

    SpaceX, US Air Force Settle Lawsuit [] (2015)

    SpaceX was actually given a contract to launch stuff to the ISS (CRS []) at a time when they hadn't flown a single Falcon 9 rocket. It allowed the company to survive and become what it is today.

    [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []