CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida — United Launch Alliance (ULA) issued a statement on Monday in response to the SpaceX lawsuit that challenges a U.S. Air Force contract with ULA, a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
“ULA is the only government certified launch provider that meets all of the unique Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) requirements that are critical to supporting our troops and keeping our country safe,” ULA wrote in the statement. “That is the case today, when the acquisition process started in 2012 and at the time of the contract award in December 2013.”
“This exclusive deal unnecessarily costs U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars and defers meaningful free competition for years to come,” said SpaceX CEO Elon Musk about the lawsuit. “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.”
ULA’s First Stage Rocket Engines Made In Russia
“ULA’s launch vehicle, the Atlas V, uses the RD-180 engine – an engine of Russian design and manufacture produced only in the Russian Federation,” SpaceX highlighted as U.S. – Russian relations continue to sour. “The company that produces the RD-180, NPO Energomash, is majority owned by the Russian Federation. The head of the Russian space sector, Dmitry Rogozin, was sanctioned by the White House in March 2014 in the wake of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.”
“In light of international events, this seems like the wrong time to send hundreds of millions of dollars to the Kremlin,” said Elon Musk. “Yet, this is what the Air Force’s arrangement with ULA does, despite the fact that there are domestic alternatives available that do not rely on components from countries that pose a national security risk.”
“ULA has purchased a first stage engine built in Russia for the past 20 years for the Atlas rocket and has always maintained contingency capabilities if the supply was interrupted to ensure our customers mission needs are met,” ULA countered. “ULA maintains a two-year inventory of engines in the U.S. and would be able to transition other mission commitments to our Delta rockets if an emergent need develops.”