SpaceX, following its successful ISS mission, has filed a legal challenge against the United Launch Alliance (ULA) contract with the US Air Force, a bid to get a piece of the government business pie. The move aims to open up competition for the Air Force’s space missions, and could benefit tax payers at the same time.
The Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle contract, more commonly referred to as the EELV, went to the Boeing and Lockheed Martin joint venture “on a sole-source basis without any competition,” SpaceX has said, claiming the deal is too expensive and closes off competition.
Said Elon Musk: “This exclusive deal unnecessarily costs U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars and defers meaningful free competition for years to come. 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 says that at about $400 million per launch, the use of ULA is four times more expensive than it would be by using SpaceX. The company is ready, it says, to provide launch services for the government, and will save it 75-percent in the process.
Beyond this, the company also points out the Russian origins of the Atlas V’s engine (ULA’s launch vehicle). Says Musk on that topic, “In light of international events, this seems like the wrong time to send hundreds of millions of dollars to the Kremlin.”