SpaceX Won Lawsuit and Launched New Rocket

spacexSpaceX won its lawsuit against the Boeing-Lockheed United Launch Alliance on the same day it launched its new rocket. A U.S. Federal Court judge awarded the order to SpaceX in an injunction brought by the company against their competitor because the United Launch Alliance had been accused of buying Russian made rocket engines and using the RD-180 generators in their rockets. This is in direct violation of a recent Presidential Executive Order which forbids the purchase of Russian products by Americans. The Federal Court conceded that the United Launch Alliance was not in keeping with the edict and allowed the ban to go through. The company has to now prove that it will not be infringing on the Order, and is denied the ability to make payments to the Russian maker.

SpaceX is also suing the Air force because it has given a sole agreement to United Launch Alliance in which that company would supply the Air Force with a string of national security connected rocket send offs. The business feels that the arrangement was not contracted out fairly and that the there was no competition in the act. The Air Force more or less gave the contract to United Launch Alliance without offering the bid to anyone else. The lawsuit SpaceX is pressing against the Air Force has yet to be heard in a court of law and determined if it was a sole source contract.

The contract in question is for the purchase of 36 rockets that the Defense Department wants to launch into space with American payloads like satellites over the next several years. Since SpaceX has won its lawsuit over United Launch Alliance and also launched its own rocket, without the aid of Russian projectiles, the company has announced to the Defense Department that it could supply the rockets the department needed at a fraction of the price for which United Launch Alliance was offering them. SpaceX has garnered support in their endeavors from members of Congress who have already been asking for more competition in the giving of government contracts that last multiple years.

SpaceX completed a successful high altitude experiment at 1,000 meters of the company’s Falcon 9 Reusable rocket, performing a perfect vertical takeoff and landing with its Merlin 1D turbines instead of the standard nine that usually accompany a rocket. The rocket takes off to 3,280 feet and hovers in midair for a short time before alighting back to the ground, all in a straight line. The exercise took place in Texas, where SpaceX owns a facility in McGregor that is utilized for all the company’s early prototypes. The test range for these studies is only 3,000 meters max. A different F9R test rocket is being assembled and will be tested at the Spaceport in New Mexico, where there is no limit on the maximum altitude.

The usage for such testing of these rockets is to find and build a new way to bring launch vehicles back to the pad from whence they came. Today, most of the launch vehicles crash into the oceans of the world, never to seen or used again. SpaceX is hoping to put an end to that trend with their new rocket they launched, which they are sure they can accomplish, especially after the lawsuit they have just won.

By Korrey Laderoute

The Washington Post
Extreme Tech