SpaceX has revolutionised the business of building rockets in less then two decades. Since 2002 SpaceX’s reusable rocket technology has become the backbone of NASA’s space program. However despite SpaceX’s notable successes, the hyper-competitive space industry has repeatedly led to friction between Elon Musk’s company and the US government.
SpaceX wants its latest protest against the US federal government to remain under wraps, meaning its allegations will not become public.
In a motion filed with the Court of Federal Claims late last week, SpaceX said the privacy was necessary because the suit contains “confidential and proprietary information and source selection information not appropriate for release to the public”.
SpaceX also filed its complaint against the government, with multiple exhibits attached, under seal.
Whether the complaint and other documents remain under seal will be decided by the court.
The Court of Federal Claims hears petitions against the federal government including contract claims and bid protests.
It was not clear from the filing what government procurement program the company is gearing up to challenge, but it arrives as the US Air Force is preparing to award lucrative launch contracts worth billions of dollars.
SpaceX last year lost out on an initial round of funding the Air Force awarded to help companies develop their rockets to meet the strict requirements of launching national security satellites.
SpaceX founder Elon Musk revealed his company had submitted a bid for that contract, but its proposal “missed the mark,” according to a Pentagon review.
While SpaceX lost out on the funding, three of it competitors — the United Launch Alliance, Northrop Grumman and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin — shared more than $2 billion for their rockets.
The Air Force is expected to pick two companies next year that would split Pentagon launches.
And this procurement has already triggered a political battle in Washington.
Since it lost on the early round of funding, SpaceX had been concerned that it would be at a disadvantage when it came time to choose the two providers.
Blue Origin, meanwhile, has been lobbying the Pentagon and members of Congress to slow down the procurement since its rocket won’t be ready to fly by next year.
SpaceX has previously sued the government over procurements several times.
In 2014, SpaceX sued the Air Force over the last round of military launch contracts, arguing it should be allowed to compete against United Launch Alliance, that held a monopoly on the contracts for a decade.
Eventually, the Air Force and SpaceX settled the case, and SpaceX has since won several lucrative contracts, including ones with US space agency NASA.
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