Elon Musk’s SpaceX To Sue U.S. Government Over Rocket Contract

screen shot via YouTube/The National Press Club

Elon Musk is called many things, but there’s few who’d argue that the Tesla Motors CEO is unimaginative. The executive, who also sits at the head of SpaceX, which is changing the way space exploration works, is now suing the Federal government to ensure fair competition in its contracting process.

SpaceX vs The United States

SpaceX is suing the US government, or more specifically the US Air Force, over the way it awards its satellite launch contracts. Elon Musk made a statement about the lawsuit last weekend, on the back of another successful cargo launch to the ISS by his company. According to Musk the way that the launches are currently awarded “essentially blocks companies like SpaceX from competing for national security launches.”

United Launch Alliance is the concern that currently controls the contract. The ULA is a joint venture between long-time Department of Defence contractors Boeing and Lockheed Martin. Elon Musk says that the contract is unfairly priced because of the lack of competition, and reckons that SpaceX could deliver the military payloads into space for billions of dollars less than the price of the ULA contract.

Elon Musk filed an intent to sue the US Airforce over the deal. That filing is the first step in the complex and arduous process surrounding the challenging of a federal contract. SpaceX is trying to build itself as the premiere private space concern, and the Airforce contract is one way that could be achieved.

Space X Battles To Privatize Space

The legal battle over the Department of Defense contract brings up a fact that Elon Musk doesn’t advertise all that often. SpaceX is not the first private company to tow objects up and down from the atmosphere. The US military has been using private contractors to carry satellites, which are ostensibly used to power the Global Positioning System, for years. Elon Musk wants to make the process more transparent, though that does make his endeavors with Space X a little less exceptional-seeming.

SpaceX already has a contract to supply the International Space Station, and the company is constantly improving on the design of its rockets in order to push the envelope in terms of performance and cost reduction. The dream is to make private space exploration profitable. With a military contract, SpaceX will have more cash to push into projects to make that dream a reality.

SpaceX is the company in the private space industry, and the company’s future relies on government contracts. The lawsuit to open up certain contracts to competition shows one thing, if nothing else, a private space industry already exists in the United States, it is simply masked behind a fog that Elon Musk, it appears, is trying to clear.