WASHINGTON -- Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) is suing Boeing and Lockheed Martin in federal court for conspiring to violate antitrust laws to corner the market on U.S. government satellite launches.

The suit, filed by SpaceX attorneys Oct. 19 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, comes as the Federal Trade Commission prepares to rule on Boeing and Lockheed Martin's proposed merger of their government rocket launch operations. The proposed joint venture, United Launch Alliance, provide Lockheed Martin Atlas and Boeing Delta rockets for U.S. government launches.

SpaceX Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk confirmed Oct. 20 that his company had filed suit against Boeing and Lockheed Martin, saying that the two companies seek to prevent companies such as his from selling launch services to the U.S. Air Force and other government customers.

SpaceX has multiple launch contracts with the U.S. Department of Defense for the Falcon 1, a small reusable rocket slated to make its launch debut before the end of the year. In recent months, SpaceX has announced that it intends to build a much larger rocket, the Falcon 9, that would compete directly with Boeing's Delta 4 and Lockheed Martin's Atlas 5 rockets. SpaceX says it already has a contract for the first Falcon 9 launch, awarded by an unnamed U.S. government customer that some launch analysts believe is an intelligence agency.

In court documents filed Oct. 19, SpaceX is suing Boeing and Lockheed Martin "for violations of antitrust, unfair competition and racketeering laws."

"Boeing and Lockheed Martin have engaged in an unlawful conspiracy to eliminate competition, and ultimately to monopolize, the government space launch business and prevent SpaceX and other potential new entrants from competing in that business," the court documents read.

Boeing and Lockheed Martin could not immediately be reached for comment.