ULA sought to have the U.S. Air Force delay bids on an upcoming GPS III satellite launch by 60 days in the wake of SpaceX’s loss of a Falcon 9 and its payload earlier this month, The Washington Post reports.
Tory Bruno, ULA’s chief executive, urged the Air Force to postpone the deadline for bids, saying it should take time to explore the impact of SpaceX’s rocket failure while also taking into account both companies’ experience and past performance.
The Pentagon should have particular reservations, Bruno wrote, given that two of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets have blown up, which he said “serve as a reminder of the complexity and hazards intrinsic to space launch services.”
“This strategy defies both law and logic and puts hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars and Warfighter mission needs unnecessarily at risk,” he wrote…
The criteria used by the Air Force in the contract to launch its GPS III satellite “relegates technical performance to an afterthought, favoring price as the determining evaluation factor — a purchasing strategy befitting perhaps of basic commodity contracting services, not the ‘incredible challenge’ of spaceflight.”
…And he hinted that the fight may not be over, saying ULA’s concerns “could conceivably be litigated in a courtroom.”
Despite the appeal from Bruno, the Air Force did not delay the bid deadline, which was on Monday. ULA submitted a bid for the launch, unlike the last competitive contract which it ceded to SpaceX.