According to the complaint file, SpaceX believes that the three rocket systems awarded the contract were “unbuilt, not tested,” and could not follow the timeline given by the government to launch the rocket and “failed to meet” the “target” proposed by the Air Force project.
SpaceX asked the court to force the Air Force to reopen the $2.3 billion "launch service agreement" bid and rethink the company's proposal. The agreement is part of the Department of Defense's latest initiative to ensure continued military input into space and reduce reliance on Russian-made RD-180 engines.
Under the project, ULA received a $967 million contract to develop a heavy-duty Vulcan rocket; Blue Origin received a $500 million contract for its New Glenn rocket, while Northrop Grumman Corp received $791.6 million for the development of the OmegA rocket contract.
In the respective documents submitted to the court this week, all three companies believed that they should be parties to the lawsuit because the judgment directly affected their economic interests.
A SpaceX spokesperson said the company decided to sue in order to "ensure a level playing field." Representatives of the US Air Force and ULA did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Blue origin refused to comment.
SpaceX's complaint was filed in the US Federal Claims Court last Friday. The complaint was kept confidential. The company also invoked confidential information and requested the court to give a protection order and confidentiality proceedings. A revised complaint was filed on Wednesday. SpaceX claims that the US Air Force has violated five different contractual requirements and requested the court to block payment of contract funds to the company and to force a reassessment of the company's proposals.
The Air Force has rejected FormX’s formal objection to the terms of the contract in April.
Prior to this, SpaceX also brought the government to court because of contract awards. In the most striking case, Space protested in 2014 against the government's multi-billion dollar non-competitive contract awarded to ULA. After the US Air Force agreed to re-initiate the tendering process, SpaceX immediately withdrew the lawsuit.