Defense Department launch provider United Launch Alliance (ULA) Tuesday moved for a court to permanently dismiss a lawsuit filed by Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX).
ULA said in its filing that the Air Force granted SpaceX visibility into its Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) procurement, including making available its request for proposals (RFP) for the acquisition and developing a path for new entrants like SpaceX to compete for future missions. But ULA claims SpaceX made no objection to the Air Force’s procurement strategy and only after SpaceX determined the service’s implementation of strategy no longer suited it, did the company file a protest. ULA claims this protest took place more than two years after the RFP was announced, 22 months after proposals were due and 10 months after the contract was executed.
ULA also argues SpaceX is not now, and has never been, certified to provide EELV services to the Air Force. ULA said when the Air Force issued a justification and approval (J&A) for EELV acquisition and through the award of the actual contract to ULA in June 2013, SpaceX did not meet the published requirements to be eligible to launch EELV mission. ULA also argued SpaceX, even today, is not certified to launch EELV missions. SpaceX is currently in the process of certification.
The request comes one week after the Air Force filed its own motion to dismiss SpaceX’s suit, which aims to force the service to compete its multi-billion dollar “block buy” of 36 launch cores to ULA, awarded in 2013. SpaceX did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
Another ULA argument for dismissal is SpaceX waived any right to challenge the Air Force’s acquisition strategy and terms by failing to file protest before the RFP’s proposal deadline. SpaceX, in its original filing, argued it is qualified to compete for all single core EELV missions because it submitted all required flight data for its third qualifying certification launch.
SpaceX, in its original filing, also argued it had standing as an interested party to file its protest because it established it could compete for a contract if the bid process were competitive. ULA said otherwise, saying SpaceX never submitted a proposal, nor protested the terms of the RFP before proposals were due. SpaceX is also not an interested party because it is not certified to launch EELV missions, ULA said.
ULA is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin [LMT] and Boeing [BA].