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Space The Military United States

SpaceX Files Suit Against US Air Force 176

Today Elon Musk announced that SpaceX has decided to challenge the U.S. Air Force's restrictions on rocket launches related to national security. Such launches are done with a Russian rocket right now, and that contract is not up for competition with other rocket makers, like SpaceX. Musk says the company has exhausted other options to become part of the bidding process. "We're just protesting and saying these launches should be competed. And if we compete and lose, that's fine, but why were they not even competed?" He also said it's the "wrong time to send hundreds of millions of dollars to the Kremlin," referencing events in the Ukraine.

At the same press conference, Musk announced that SpaceX's recent attempt to soft-land a rocket booster stage was successful. It landed and was in "healthy condition" immediately afterward. Unfortunately, they weren't able to recover it because it landed in the middle of a rough storm, which eventually destroyed the stage. The storm was rough enough that the Coast Guard wouldn't even send a boat out to help recover it. Musk said, "We'll get much bigger boats next time." SpaceX also plans on landing the stage on shore at some point, which makes recovery easier. Musk made this prediction: "I expect we will be able to land a stage back at Cape Canaveral by the end of the year."
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SpaceX Files Suit Against US Air Force

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 25, 2014 @03:39PM (#46843783)

    The idea was to test a soft landing, but not damage anything in case of failure. SpaceX determined that it would have landed safely on land, so next launch they can prepare a proper landing pad and worry less about frying the next town over.

  • Re:Russian Engine (Score:4, Informative)

    by adamgundy ( 836997 ) on Friday April 25, 2014 @03:46PM (#46843829)

    I could be wrong on this, but I thought Pratt was going to be building the RD Amross (which is the american version of the RD-180) starting a couple of years ago. If that's the case then the RD-180's being used on the Atlas V are completely domestic.

    no. they spent a small fortune on 'investigating the possibility' of building the engines in the US, which culminated in building one small part of an engine. then concluded that it was too expensive (a billion dollars to start production, and the US engines would also be twice the price).

    RD-180s are built in Russia. they have a two year stockpile here in the US.. but ULA have just been awarded a five year block buy.

  • by Guspaz ( 556486 ) on Friday April 25, 2014 @05:15PM (#46844471)

    DC-X started landing from zero kilometres per hour at a maximum altitude of ~3km without ever having to re-light the engines. A Falcon 9 first stage starts landing from 11,000 kilometers per hour (mach 10) at 80km and has to re-light the engines twice (retro burn and landing burn). There's an enormous difference.

    DC-X is more comparable to Grasshopper, not an actual orbital Falcon 9 rocket.

  • by Geoffrey.landis ( 926948 ) on Friday April 25, 2014 @09:00PM (#46845847) Homepage

    ...space-x, who privately built a rocket with no cushy contracts...

    Space-X privately built the Falcon-one "with no cushy contract". This was their small rocket-- about the equivalent of the smallest Delta.

    The Falcon 9, on the other hand, was funded by NASA.

"Mach was the greatest intellectual fraud in the last ten years." "What about X?" "I said `intellectual'." ;login, 9/1990