On Thursday, a federal Judge lifted his restrictions on the main contractor for US Air Force National security. There was an injunction on this main contractor, United Launch Alliance from buying goodies from Russian rocket engines. After several talks, the US officials made him clear that United Launch Alliance didn’t break their sanctions against Russian suppliers.
A week ago, Jude Susan Braden of the US Court of Federal Claims issued the injunction on the main contractor for US Air Force National security. This injunction was made when there were talks of an Air Force deal to buy millions of dollars’ worth of rocket from United Launch Alliance for future launches. This deal was challenged by United Launch Alliance’s main competitor, SpaceX in Braden’s court.
SpaceX claimed that United Launch Alliance’s Atlas 5 rocket used RD-180 engines which were bought from a Russian rocket engine manufacturer. The Russian rocket engine supplier was know to be a state controlled company named NPO Energomash. As Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin is in charge of the country’s space programs, SpaceX questioned whether the engine purchases made by United Launch Alliance violated U.S. sanctions against Rogozin and some other Russian officials in the wake of the Ukraine crisis.
This claim was followed by a ban on further purchases of rocket engines from that Russian manufacturer until Braden was assured that United Launch Alliance didn’t voilate their sanctions against Russian suppliers. Such assurance was made this week by officials from the Treasury, State and Commerce Departments. After this assurance, Braden lifted the injunction and also asked federal officials to inform the court immediately if they received any note that the purchases from Russian rocket engine suppliers would violate the sanctions.
United Launch Alliance made a statement against SpaceX saying: “Sadly, SpaceX’s frivolous lawsuit caused unnecessary distraction of the executive and judicial branch and increased tensions with Russia during a sensitive national security crisis. SpaceX’s actions are self-serving, irresponsible and have threatened the U.S.’s involvement with the International Space Station and other companies and projects working with Russian State entities.”
They also said that they hope SpaceX will revisit its underlying lawsuit and the merits of its case, however, SpaceX is expected to press on with its challenge to the Air Force’s “block-buy” deal with United Launch Alliance.
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