SpaceX: Lawsuit & Launch back on

by Braddock Gaskill

SpaceX will be attempting another launch next week during a window running from March 20th to 25th, with a flight readiness test today.

The anti-trust lawsuit between the company and Boeing and Lockheed Martin has been re-opened, and the President and General Manager of Sea Launch, Jim Maser, will become the new SpaceX President and COO.

All told, it has been an eventful week at SpaceX.

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SpaceX v. Boeing and Lockheed: Case Reopened

US Federal Court Justice Florence-Marie Cooper officially reopened the SpaceX v. Boeing and Lockheed anti-trust lawsuit on Monday by accepting a new amended complaint from SpaceX.  The original claims by SpaceX had been dismissed last month by Justice Cooper after a brief hearing, and the case was officially closed with an option for SpaceX to file an amended complaint.

In her ruling last month, Justice Cooper declared that SpaceX ‘is not yet ready to compete with the Defendants in the EELV market. Because it lacks such readiness, its speculative claims regarding future harm are not ripe.’ 

SpaceX had alleged a history of anti-competitive behavior by Boeing and Lockheed, and claimed that they had conspired to lock out any possible competition in the US military launch market.  Boeing and Lockheed had both protested in turn that SpaceX, which has not yet successfully launched even its first small rocket, could not show direct injury, and moved to dismiss the case.

In the dismissal ruling last month, Justice Cooper permitted SpaceX 20 days to file an amended complaint to reopen the case.  However, at the time she stated that an amended complaint would be unlikely to ‘overcome the constitutional deficiencies that plague its claims’.

Read more about the dismissal by clicking here.

SeaLaunch President jumps ship to SpaceX

SpaceX announced yesterday that Jim Maser will join the company to become their new President and Chief Operating Officer.  Maser has held the post of President and General Manager of Sea Launch since 2001, and has had a long career with Boeing, McDonald Douglas, and NASA.

Maser appears to be a good fit for the technocratic Space Exploration Technologies Company.  In addition to his obvious experience managing a small and innovative space launch company, he has an extensive technical and engineering background that includes the position of Chief Engineer of the Delta III program, a key role in Delta IV development, and a research fellowship at NASA/Lewis Research Center.

‘Jim brings a wealth of capability and experience to the SpaceX team. His joining is also a tremendous endorsement of SpaceX, our accomplishments to date and our vision for the future,’ said Elon Musk, Chairman and CEO of SpaceX.

Launch Preparations Continue

In the meanwhile, SpaceX has continued to quietly prepare for its next launch attempt scheduled for sometime next week.  On Wednesday, Elon Musk announced the repaired rocket was vertical on the pad and that ‘all systems are currently go’ for a static fire planned for today, followed by a launch between March 20 and 25.

The static fire test performed last month revealed a small leak in the second stage tank.  An entirely new second stage tank had to be flown to the Kwajalein island launch site from California and installed.  It was unclear whether the discovered leak would have caused a significant problem if the rocket had launched. 

SpaceX had to again ship a resupply of LOX from Hawaii to support the new attempt.  The company boiled off an unexpectedly large amount of LOX in their last two static firing tests when extra hours were spent on the pad, reportedly troubleshooting an ignition timing issue.

**Falcon 1: live launch updates**

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