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SpaceX Wins Injunction Against Russian Rocket Purchases 166

Posted by timothy
from the oh-elon-please-don't-do-this dept.
Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes "Reuters is reporting that Space Exploration Technologies, aka SpaceX, has won a Federal Claims Court temporary injunction against the purchase by United Launch Alliance of Russian-made rocket boosters, intended for use by the United States Air Force. In her ruling Judge Susan Braden prohibited ULA and the USAF, 'from making any purchases from or payment of money to [Russian firm] NPO Energomash.' United Launch Alliance is a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin."
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SpaceX Wins Injunction Against Russian Rocket Purchases

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  • Why (Score:5, Informative)

    by Charliemopps (1157495) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @11:33AM (#46890143)

    The summary doesn't mention anything about "WHY" they made this ruling or why there was a lawsuit in the first place.

    USAF awarded Russia a no-bid contract on 36 rocket boosters. SpaceX filed suit requesting consideration for the contract. The court filed an injunction to prevent sales being made while the trial moves forward.

  • by jonnythan (79727) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @11:47AM (#46890331) Homepage

    Um, no. The Air Force gave Russia the contract with zero bidding process. SpaceX literally never had a chance. They're suing for a level playing field where they could bid against Russia in an open process.

    The rest of your post is...... well.

  • Re:Why (Score:4, Informative)

    by Last_Available_Usern (756093) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @12:01PM (#46890529)
    To be clear, USAF awarded ULA (United Launch Alliance, jointly run by Boeing and Lockheed) the uncompeted contract. What this prevents is ULA from making purchases from Russia for parts, which essentially cripples their entire contract since the Russian parts included the first-stage engine I believe. Without that, ULA doesn't have a functional rocket as far as I can tell. I'm sure ULA will find an intermediary who will "just happen" to have some of these engines laying around that they can then use to fulfill the contract. The bigger question is whether the contract as a whole will be recompeted, as it should.
  • by Erich (151) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @02:03PM (#46892231) Homepage Journal
    My understanding is that ULA gets paid lots and lots of money to maintain two independent launch vehicles, the Atlas V and the Delta IV. That way if one of the rockets is grounded for some reason, space access is still available.

    ULA prefers Atlas V because it is more profitable for them. But it uses engines from Russia.

    The Russian engines are purchased from a company with ties to one of the people targeted by US sanctions against Russia... so the judge has granted the injunction to prevent purchasing those Russian engines.

    ULA has a stockpile of some Russian engines already, and they have the (less profitable for them) Delta IV if they can't launch Atlas V for any reason... and running out of engines would be one of those reasons. But ULA would prefer to continue buying engines. But we've been paying them to have both rockets available, so they'd better be able to show up with what they've promised.

    Separate from this injunction, SpaceX is asking for a review of the large block by of ULA cores, as it was done just before (a few days before) one of the final milestones of SpaceX being qualified to launch for the air force. I think it's not unreasonable for them to say that it's unacceptable to do a huge purchase when if you wait for a few days you would have multiple vendors competing for the bid.

    Even John McCain thinks that contract smells fishy: link [dodbuzz.com]

  • by icebike (68054) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @03:03PM (#46893045)

    Utter nonsense.

    Look, we all acknowledge the accomplishments Mother Russia, OK?
    But stop trying to make out that this is either high tech or difficult to make. Its a very basic simple design (as is almost all Russian space hardware), simply scaled up.

    Engines with the exact same principal of operation powered the Shuttle [wikipedia.org]. It had the additional requirement of being reusable. SpaceX already has the Raptor engine [wikipedia.org] in production and testing.

    The metallurgy is not a particular impediment, because it was already developed for prior rocket motors (F1 [wikipedia.org]) as far back as the 50s.

That does not compute.

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