Air Force Barred From Using Russia-Made Rocket Engines

     (CN) – In light of recent sanctions against Russia, SpaceX won its bid to block Boeing and Lockheed Martin from buying any more Russian rocket engines for the U.S. Air Force.
     The U.S. Court of Federal Claims issued a preliminary injunction barring the Air Force and the United Launch Alliance – a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin – from buying rocket engines built by NPO Energomash, a corporation owned and operated by the Russian government.
     Space Exploration Technologies Corp., or SpaceX, the California-based company co-founded by Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk, filed a complaint last week protesting the Air Force’s “exclusive deal” with Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
     SpaceX said the contract “funnels hundreds of millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars to Russia’s military-industrial base,” despite recent sanctions.
     Calling the deal “dangerous, fiscally irresponsible, and offensive to American values of open competition and fairness,” SpaceX asked the federal claims court to force the Air Force “to conduct full and open competition” for all future rocket orders.
     Judge Susan Braden agreed that the Air Force’s use of Russian-made rocket engines violates U.S. sanctions on certain Russian officials, specifically Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, head of Russia’s space program.
     Last month the Obama administration also banned the export of “any high technology defense articles or services” in response to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.
     Braden’s order, issued Wednesday, bars the United States and a United Launch Alliance subsidiary from “making any purchases from or payment of money to NPO Engeromash or any entity … that is subject to the control of Deputy Prime Minister Rogozin.”
     “[I]n this court’s judgment, the public interest and national defense and security concerns that underlie [the] Executive Order … warrant issuance of a preliminary injunction in this case,” Braden wrote.
     Her order excludes existing purchase orders and money already paid to NPO Energomash.
     The government’s deal with United Launch Services is part of the Air Force’s Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program, the fourth-largest program in the defense budget, estimated to cost $70 billion through 2030.

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