WASHINGTON-- Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) is suing Boeing and Lockheed Martinin federal court for conspiring to violate antitrust laws to corner the marketon U.S. government satellite launches.
The suit,filed by SpaceX attorneys Oct. 19 in the U.S. District Court for the CentralDistrict of California, comes as the Federal Trade Commission prepares to ruleon Boeing and Lockheed Martin's proposed merger of their government rocketlaunch operations. The proposed joint venture, United Launch Alliance, provideLockheed Martin Atlas and Boeing Delta rockets for U.S. government launches.
SpaceXChairman and Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk confirmed Oct. 20 that hiscompany had filed suit against Boeing and Lockheed Martin, saying that the twocompanies seek to prevent companies such as his from selling launch services tothe U.S. Air Force and other government customers.
SpaceX hasmultiple 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 theyear. In recent months, SpaceX has announced that it intends to build a muchlarger rocket, the Falcon 9, that would compete directly with Boeing's Delta 4and Lockheed Martin's Atlas 5 rockets. SpaceX says it already has a contractfor the first Falcon 9 launch, awarded by an unnamed U.S. government customerthat some launch analysts believe is an intelligence agency.
In courtdocuments filed Oct. 19, SpaceX is suing Boeing and Lockheed Martin "forviolations of antitrust, unfair competition and racketeering laws."
"Boeing andLockheed Martin have engaged in an unlawful conspiracy to eliminatecompetition, and ultimately to monopolize, the government space launch businessand prevent SpaceX and other potential new entrants from competing in thatbusiness," the court documents read.
Boeing andLockheed Martin could not immediately be reached for comment.