US: SpaceX has challenged US Air Force’s decision to award the latest Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) contract with United Launch Alliance (ULA), a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
The long-term contract, which guarantees the purchase of 36 rocket cores from ULA to be used in national security launches, was granted to ULA on a sole-source basis without any competition from other launch providers. SpaceX is seeking the right to compete for some of these same launches.
In the press conference held by the company, Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO and Chief Designer, said, “This exclusive deal unnecessarily costs US taxpayers billions of dollars and defers meaningful free competition for years to come. We are simply asking that SpaceX and any other qualified domestic launch providers be allowed to compete in the EELV program for any and all missions that they could launch.”
The press release issued by the company stated, "EELV is the fourth largest procurement program in the entire Department of Defense (DOD) budget, and it has been plagued by significant and sustained cost breaches. DOD officials have reported that EELV has exceeded its original estimated per unit cost by 58.4%." SpaceX also claimed that each launch by ULA costs American taxpayers roughly $400 million per launch; four times as much as a launch by SpaceX.
SpaceX has also launched a new website www.freedomtolaunch.com where the official protest document is available for public access.