SpaceX files protest against U.S. Air Force rocket launches

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SpaceX and its founder/CEO Elon Musk has filed an official protest over U.S. Air Force rocket launches, which is monopolized by Boeing and Lockheed Martin. SpaceX believes it can save the Air Force around $1 billion annually by forcing the United Launch Alliance (ULA), an effort of Boeing and Lockheed Martin to compete for military satellite launch contracts. The ULA formed in 2006 and conducted the launches for the Air Force since then.

“The impacts of relying on a monopoly provider since 2006 are predictable and they are borne out,” said Musk to a Senate Appropriations subcommittee in March. “Space launch innovation has stagnated, competition has been stifled and prices have risen to (unsustainable) levels.”

Musk wants the Air Force to cancel its 36-core contract that the ULA bids on and grant SpaceX its formal certification. It also wants the U.S. Air Force to hold a competition for contracts. Musk believes that SpaceX could have saved taxpayers $11.6 billion if they had been awarded the contract in 2006 instead of the ULA.

Musk said that the ULA uses the Russian-made Atlas V rocket and with the American-made Delta IV. “This seems like the wrong time to send hundreds of millions of dollars to the Kremlin,” said Musk.

Musk said that SpaceX successfully executed a soft landing of the Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage into the Atlantic Ocean. SpaceX hopes to have reusable rockets landing at Cape Canaveral by the end of the year.

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