USAF Seeks Dismissal of Key Part of SpaceX EELV Protest

The Air Force has asked the US Court of Federal Claims to dismiss “any challenge” by Space Exploration Technologies Corp. of its most recent Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle contract. The motion, which was filed on June 30, claims SpaceX lacks jurisdiction because it failed to file a complaint in a timely manner. “SpaceX’s complaint is amorphous. Rather than challenge a single procurement action, SpaceX broadly protests any sole-source purchase of single-core evolved expendable launch vehicles and associated launch services,” states the motion. The contract in question allows the Air Force to purchase up to 35 EELV cores from the United Launch Alliance. SpaceX claims the long-term contract blocks other companies from competing for national security launches. “SpaceX knew about the agency’s intent to award a sole-source contract to ULS, and received a copy of the [request for proposals] less than a month after it was issued. Yet, SpaceX failed to object—or to indicate that it too could compete for the eventual contract,” states the motion. “SpaceX’s own failure to timely object to the RFP means that it does not have standing to bring those complaints to this court by challenging what it calls the ‘block-buy’ contract.” The company, which is trying to break into the military launch market, filed its original suit against the Air Force in April. Following the announcement, Sen. John McCain [R-Ariz.] called on the Department of Defense Inspector General to investigate the program.