Elon Musk and SpaceX to Sue American Government for Monopolizing Space Funding

By Matt Paulson April 30, 2014

Groups that are planning to launch a rocket, satellite or even an astronaut into space have always had to negotiate with the United States Air Force so that they could be awarded a launch contract. However, the Air Force has recently only been awarding launch contracts to a single company exclusively, United Launch Alliance, forcing all others trying to reach the final frontier to negotiate through ULA. SpaceX CEO and chief technology officer Elon Musk however has declared his intention to challenge that policy and sue the government, claiming that ULA currently has a monopoly on spaceflight.

The lawsuit was announced just after the government awarded a contract to the ULA for rocket boosters, worth around $7.2 billion. Elon Musk claims that this preferential treatment is unfair, stating that it, “essentially blocks companies like SpaceX from competing for national security launches.”

SpaceX is already a big name in the world of aerospace, having recently launched the prototype Dragon re-usable rocket as an attempt to come up with a sustainable launch vehicle. The rocket is designed to be able to land autonomously, and recent tests have proved to be a success.

The ULA, a joint venture between aerospace giants Boeing and Lockheed Martin, has attempted to counteract this bold statement by claiming that they have already saved the government $4 billion dollars through their efficient rockets, but re-usable rockets from SpaceX could blow that argument right out of the water. “The ULA rockets are basically four times more expensive than ours,” stated Musk, “So this contract is costing the U.S. Taxpayers billions of dollars for no reason.

Image via Shutterstock.

However, this is not a new battleground for Musk or SpaceX. SpaceX first challenged the antitrust legality of ULA's exclusive access to government launch contracts in 2005. At that point, the Federal Trade Commission and the Pentagon announced their support for ULA - but as SpaceX becomes a bigger name, the tides just might add another company to the launch pad.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

TechZone360 Contributing Writer

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