SpaceX has announced plans to file an official protest against what he sees as the monopoly that Boeing and Lockheed Martin have on U.S. Air Force rocket launches, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced today in a press conference.
SpaceX believes that it can save the Air Force approximately $US1 billion annually by forcing the United Launch Alliance (ULA), a combined effort of Boeing and Lockheed Martin, to compete for military satellite launch contracts. The ULA was formed in 2006 and has handled launches for the Air Force since then.
“The impacts of relying on a monopoly provider since 2006 are predictable and they are borne out,” Musk told a Senate appropriations subcommittee in March. “Space launch innovation has stagnated, competition has been stifled and prices have risen to (unsustainable) levels.”
Ultimately, Musk wants the Air Force to cancel its 36-core contract that ULA bid on, grant SpaceX its formal certification, and then hold a legitimate competition for contracts. Musk believes that SpaceX hypothetically could have saved taxpayers $US11.6 billion if they had been awarded the contract in 2006 instead of ULA.
Musk highlighted at a press conference today that SpaceX is perfectly capable of putting NASA satellites and “every satellite you can imagine” into space, so there’s no reason the company should not be trusted with military launches.
Musk then went a step further today by drawing attention to the fact that the ULA uses the Russian-made Atlas V rocket alongside the American built Delta IV.
“This seems like the wrong time to send hundreds of millions of dollars to the Kremlin,” Musk added.
Musk also confirmed today that SpaceX successfully executed a soft landing of the Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage into the ocean. Musk called this a huge milestone, and hopes to have reusable rockets land at Cape Canaveral by the end of the year.
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