Case closed: California judge ends SpaceX’s lawsuit against the U.S. Air Force

Home / Case closed: California judge ends SpaceX’s lawsuit against the U.S. Air Force

The judge said the Air Force’s actions were not arbitrary, capricious, or in violation of the law, and that SpaceX was not entitled to any relief in this action.”

WASHINGTON — A California judge Oct. 2 officially ended SpaceX’s 18-month-long lawsuit against the U.S. Air Force. Following a Sept. 24 ruling denying SpaceX’s claim, the judge on Friday ordered the case to be closed. 

U.S. District Court Judge Judge Otis Wright II of the Central District of California on Sept. 24 ruled against SpaceX in its legal complaint over contracts the U.S. Air Force awarded in October 2018 to United Launch Alliance, Northrop Grumman and Blue Origin. 

The judge’s Sept. 24 order, first reported by Reuters, was sealed by the court because it contained sensitive information.

In the Oct. 2 motion to close the case, the judge noted that his Sept. 24 order denied SpaceX’s claim, “concluding that the Air Force’s actions were not arbitrary, capricious, or in violation of the law, and that SpaceX was not entitled to any relief in this action.”

SpaceX first filed the complaint May 17, 2019, with the Court of Federal Claims. The company argued that the Air Force gave an unfair advantage to the other companies by awarding them Launch Service Agreements and excluding SpaceX. 

After the Court of Federal Claims ruled that it lacked jurisdiction, the case was transferred in August 2019 to the U.S. District Court of the Central District of California.

The Air Force awarded Launch Service Agreements contracts to Blue Origin ($500 million), United Launch Alliance ($967 million) and Northrop Grumman ($762 million) to help the companies defray the costs of developing new rockets and infrastructure as they competed for a launch service procurement contract. 

SpaceX’s proposal for a Launch Service Agreement contract was to leverage its Starship space exploration vehicle to launch the military’s heaviest payloads. The Air Force denied SpaceX an LSA award. On Aug. 7, the Air Force selected ULA and SpaceX as the winners of the launch service procurement competition.

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