Elon Musk, founder and chief engineer of SpaceX, is speaking at a satellite conference and exhibition on March 9, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Win McNamee | Getty Images
Elon Musk is never afraid to express his opinion, and when it comes to the multibillion-dollar contracts with the government to launch rockets, the CEO of SpaceX is particularly stressed.
The billionaire’s founder took to Twitter on Wednesday to speak with Tori Bruno, CEO of Boeing and Lockheed Martin’s United Launch Alliance missile construction joint venture. At the heart of the controversy lies Mask’s view that the ULA has great support from the government – a position Bruno vehemently denies.
“ULA, the two startup providers would have died like a quote without the DoD request,” Musk wrote in his tweet.
“In this case, it’s the money that SpaceX’s goal is to get rid of the extraterrestrial life, and ULA’s goal is to maximize dividends on Lockheed & Boeing,” Musk added in another tweet.
Musk had previously hinted that the ULA was receiving a “billion-dollar subsidy” from the Pentagon, and last year called the rival a “complete waste of taxpayers’ money.”
Bruno, for his part, has repeatedly called the idea that ULA receives state subsidies a “nonsense myth,” saying “there is no subsidy” and Published the article with his opinion of “misinformation.”
The CEOs are referring to the Air Force Agreement, commonly referred to as the ELC. Five years ago, at a hearing before a subcommittee of the Armed Forces, the late Senator John McCain concluded ELC and its affiliate with ULA are a company founded in 2006 that brings together 50-50 partnerships of the rocket business of Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
“The goal of the ELC was to provide ULA as a single entity [United States] at that time, the startup provider could have been ready to launch when significant national security burdens were needed, ”McCain said in a statement, referring to one of the broader contracts called EELV, which was created to finance ULA launch costs. part. infrastructure that is important to provide access to space. “
For nearly a decade, ULA has dominated the U.S.’s largest and most expensive military satellite launch market. SpaceX filed a lawsuit against HHK in 2014 under a contract with ULA. The lawsuit was later settled, and many contracts have been signed over the past few years through the SpaceX and ULA military awards competition.
After SpaceX, Musk, like McCain, criticized ULA for continuing to raise funds under the ELC.
“Stop subsidizing taxpayers to a military-industrial complex at $ 800 million a year,” McCain said at a 2016 hearing. “How do you compete if you’re paid $ 800 million a year to stay in your business?”
Congress has ordered the Air Force to rescind the ELC contract by the end of 2020 and pay the latest ULA fee under the agreement. In 2019, it was $ 98.5 million for three launches.
Bruno responded to Musk on Wednesday, saying ULA refused to receive subsidies from the government and instead referred to the companies ’current competition.
“Competition is good for industry and consumers. Our nation is better now that we have a wider industrial base,” Bruno wrote.
“I congratulate you on your great achievements. We are also proud of ourselves,” he added.
Talking to each other between CEOs initially went beyond a conversation based on SpaceX’s pioneering use of a rocket booster on a regular basis for orbital launch.
SpaceX has been able to reuse a single Falcon amplifier 10 times, and is also increasingly using nosecons, which could save Musk millions of dollars. Initially, the company expected to require an “upgrade” of the amplifier after 10 takeoffs and landings, but Mask said the company needs to work less between each mission – SpaceX will now launch the Falcon 9 amplifiers more than 30 times each. is planning.
“The work required between flights is less and less, as evidenced by the reduction in time between flights,” Musk said.
ULA, on the other hand, is developing its own Vulcan rocket, which will both replace obsolete Atlas and Delta missiles and end the use of Russian-made rocket engines. ULA’s Atlas V rocket is powered by RD-180 engines purchased from Russia.
Although ULA has talked about Vulcan’s rocket engines being caught in the air by a system of parachutes and helicopters and reusing them, the company has not announced when it will start testing the system. The first volcanic eruption of the ULA will be costly, with every part of the rocket falling into the ocean or burning in the atmosphere.
Artistic performance of the United Launch Alliance’s Volcanic System.
United Launch Alliance
ULA leaders said the company still wants to reuse Vulcan rockets, but has not announced a timeline or goal for it.
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