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AKIPRESS.COM - The federal court of US ruled to temporarily stop buying Russian rocket engines for launches of U.S. national security missions, the US media report Thursday.
In a preliminary injunction issued Wednesday by the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, Judge Susan Braden said no purchases of the RD-180 engine flown by ULA's Atlas V rocket should proceed until several federal agencies determine they do not violate U.S. sanctions against Russia's top defense and space official.
The ruling came in response to a bid protest that SpaceX filed Monday challenging the Air Force's block buy of 36 ULA rockets for national security launches through 2017, arguing that some of the missions should have been open to competition, the Florida Today reported.
SpaceX also said that since most of those launches would be performed by the Atlas V with a main engine built by NPO Energomash, the deal would funnel millions of dollars to "an entity controlled by Russia and to an industry led by an individual identified for sanctions."
That individual is Dmitry Rogozin, Russia's deputy prime minister, who was among officials sanctioned in March in connection with Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region.
The ruling won't affect ULA's near-term launches because the company has at least a two-year supply of RD-180 engines available. Procurement of rocket components starts two to three years before missions are scheduled to launch.
Still, ULA on Wednesday decried SpaceX's "attempt to disrupt" the Air Force contract, saying it could impact both national security and NASA's ability to buy rides for astronauts to the International Space Station from Russia.