The US Court of Federal Claims issued an order today formally lifting the injunction on payments to and from NPO Energomash for RD-180 engines used by United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket. In the two-page order, Judge Susan Braden said her decision was based on the letters she received from the Departments of Commerce, State, and Treasury stating that they had not found that payments to Energomash contravened the sanctions on Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. The court also received a letter from Bradley Smith, chief counsel for Foreign Assets Control at the Treasury Department, with similar language to the previous ones, noting that no “affirmative determination” that Rogozin controls NPO Energomash had been made by his office or elsewhere in the government.
Based on the opinions in those letters, Judge Braden dissolved the April 30 injunction. However, she added that “if the Government receives any indication, however, that purchases from or payment of money to NPO Energomash by ULS, ULA, or the United States Air Force will directly or indirectly contravene Executive Order 13,661, the Government will inform the court immediately.”
While the order became available Thursday afternoon, news that the court had ended the injunction reached attendees of the Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC) meeting in Washington around midday, ironically, during a presentation on an ongoing Defense Department study of RD-180 alternatives by former NASA administrator Mike Griffin. During the question-and-answer session of the presentation, Dan Collins, ULA chief operating officer and a member of COMSTAC, announced he hed received an email with the news the injunction was lifted; attendees greeted that announcement with a round of applause. “I’m personally pleased to hear that,” Griffin said.
“Me, too,” Collins responded.