Elon Musk's SpaceX Halts Air Force One Contract for Now

May 01, 2014 09:45 PM EDT | Jordan Ecarma


Elon Musk's commercial space venture SpaceX is currently leading in its fight to challenge an Air Force One rocket contract after winning a court order.

U.S. Court of Federal Claims Judge Susan Braden in Washington has temporarily halted the multi-billion-dollar contract recently awarded to the joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin due to concerns that the deal violates sanctions against Russia, Bloomberg Businessweek reported.

The judge will have to hear from the U.S. departments of Treasure, Commerce and State "that any such purchases or payments will not directly or indirectly contravene" federal sanctions imposed against Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin following the Ukraine conflict.

SpaceX filed a formal complaint earlier this week, saying it was illegally shut out of bidding on the contract to build 36 rocket cores. Musk, who is CEO both of SpaceX and California-based Tesla Motors, additionally called out the Pentagon for its continued collaborations with Russia.

"How is it that we're spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in U.S. taxpayer money [on Russian engines] at a time when Russia is the process of invading Ukraine?" said Musk, as quoted by The Washington Post blog. "It would be hard to imagine that Dmitry Rogozin is not benefiting personally from the dollars that are sent there."

According to Musk, the Air Force and taxpayers could be saving $300 million per space mission working with SpaceX,  The Associated Press reported.

NASA currently depends on Russia to transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station. Rogozin responded to the sanctions on Tuesday with a snarky tweet aimed at the American space agency.  

When translated from Russian, the tweet read, "I suggest the U.S. delivers its astronauts to the ISS with a trampoline."

Caught between diminished resources and Russian sanctions, NASA recently called for more funding to become independent from Russia.

"NASA is laser focused on a plan to return human spaceflight launches to American soil, and end our reliance on Russia to get into space," said a NASA blog post shared on Google+.

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