SpaceX Protests U.S. Air Force, Orbital Contract

November 17, 2009

SpaceX filed a protest with the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) on Oct. 26 over a missile hardware order the U.S. Air Force placed with Orbital Sciences Corp. on Sept. 14, the GAO confirmed Nov. 16.

The order was to provide hardware in order to launch NASAís Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) in May 2012 aboard a Minotaur 5 rocket. In the protest, SpaceX claims its Falcon 1e or Falcon 9 rocket would have provided cost savings to the government and that the military neglected to contact SpaceX or investigate whether the company could meet the missionís requirements.

SpaceX also claims that Orbitalís contract award violates the U.S. Commercial Space Act of 1998, which requires the U.S. government to buy launch services from U.S. commercial providers whenever possible.

The GAO has 90 days to review the protest.