While there have been no major developments in the legal, political, and public relations battles among SpaceX, United Launch Alliance (ULA), and the Air Force regarding competition for Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) class launches, the two companies traded jabs on Thursday in the form of court filings and advertisements.
A spokesperson for SpaceX said Thursday that the company filed a motion with the Court of Federal Claims on Wednesday regarding its suit against the Air Force, seeking to amend their original complaint. The amendment deals with allegations of inflated prices for RD-180 engines raised by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) in a statement last Friday.
SpaceX argues, in its motion, that McCain’s statement shows that ULA and the Air Force failed to provide and certify EELV costs before the Air Force awarded a “block buy” EELV contract to the company in late 2013. “Had ULA complied with its legal obligation to provide certified cost and pricing data for the RD-180 engines and other rocket component parts, it would have been forced to confront the fact that at least one of its suppliers is fleecing the United States taxpayer,” SpaceX states in its motion. “The Air Force would not have been able to determine that ULA’s prices were fair and reasonable, and the Air Force would have rejected ULA’s proposal and not entered into the December 2013 sole source contract.”
ULA, meanwhile, is responding in the court of public opinion, so to speak, with a series of advertisements emphasizing the company’s track record in launching critical government satellites. The company released the second in that series, which it calls “Reliability over Recognition.” (The first, released last week, was dubbed “Results over Rhetoric.”)
“As ULA CEO Mr. [Michael] Gass has publicly stated,” ULA spokesperson Jessica Rye wrote in an email accompanying the ad, “there has been misinformation and we want to make clear that there is a lot at stake when launch services provide critical national security support to our military and first responders and help predict dangerous weather events.”