Courthouse News Service reports that SpaceX has filed a lawsuit alleging that "its NASA contract to ferry cargo and astronauts to the International Space Station was compromised by a spacecraft safety company's defamatory allegations of mechanical failures and explosions, and it says the allegations were spurred by its refusal to give the defendant a $1 million consulting contract."
"Early in June 2011, on behalf of Valador, Fragola attempted to obtain a consulting contract from SpaceX worth as much as $1 million," the complaint states. "He claimed that SpaceX needed an 'independent' analysis of its rocket to bolster its reputation with NASA based on what he called an unfair 'perception' about SpaceX. SpaceX did not respond favorably to Fragola's offer.
"SpaceX subsequently learned that Fragola - within the scope of his employment at Valador, and by using his email account at Valador - has been contacting officials in the United States Government to make disparaging remarks about SpaceX, which have created the very 'perception' that he claimed SpaceX needed his help to rectify."
The allegations follow another incident two months ago where space industry analyst Loren Thompson made a number of controversial allegations about SpaceX. It was later revealed that Lockheed-Martin, one of SpaceX's rivals, was Thompson's client.
UPDATE June 27, 2011 — A June 20 article in the Torrance Daily Breeze adds a local flavor to this story:
... [I]n a nugget of advice to new high school graduates, SpaceX founder Elon Musk recently offered his philosophy on dealing with "bullies."
In his quote, in a June 9 Daily Breeze special graduation tab, Musk said: "As for bad advice, my parents advised me to ignore bullies. That doesn't work. You have to punch them on the nose."