Elon Musk, SpaceX to sue federal government to break space-launch monopoly

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A fledgling commercial space transport company plans to shake up the space launch industry by filing a federal lawsuit against the Air Force — a challenge to the military service’s contracting procedures for national security launches.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said Friday during a press conference that he plans to challenge an Air Force “bulk buy” of 36 Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle launches over the next several years, according to Forbes magazine.

Mr. Musk has been struggling to break into the space industry, which defense giant United Launch Alliance — a partnership between Boeing and Lockheed Martin — has practically monopolized.

Forbes quotes Mr. Musk as saying that the current system essentially blocks companies such as SpaceX from competing for national security launches.

The underdog in an uphill fight to revise the cost of space launches, Mr. Musk has been making headway toward reshaping the space launch industry.

Just a few days ago, SpaceX sent its Falcon 9 rocket for a cargo delivery mission to the International Space Station, demonstrating that space launch costs could be reduced by reusing rocket boosters, according to MIT Technology Review.

Conventional rocket boosters expend their fuel and then disintegrate as they fall back to Earth, which “adds greatly to launch costs,” MIT Technology Review reported. Those costs can top out at about $200 million per launch.

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