Thursday, May 1, 2014

Nothing But Nyet

The U.S. Court of Federal Claims has issued a preliminary injunction that prohibits United Launch Alliance from buying NPO Energomash RD-180 engines from Russia.

The ruling cites President Obama's March 20, 2014 executive order Blocking Property of Additional Persons Contributing to the Situation in Ukraine.

The preliminary injunction concludes:

After considering the April 28, 2014 Complaint, Executive Order No. 13,661, together with subsequent Executive Branch restrictions, and conducting a hearing on this date, in the court’s judgment, the public interest and national defense and security concerns that underlie Executive Order 13,661 warrant issuance of a preliminary injunction in this case that prohibits:

The United States Air Force and United Launch Services, LLC (“ULS”), a majority owned subsidiary of United Launch Alliance, LLC (“ULA”),2 and affiliates thereof, including general partners, directors, officers, employees, agents, representatives, predecessors, assigns, joint ventures, subsidiaries, and divisions, from making any purchases from or payment of money to NPO Energomash or any entity, whether governmental, corporate or individual, that is subject to the control of Deputy Prime Minister Rogozin, unless and until the court receives the opinion of the United States Department of the Treasury, and the United States Department of Commerce and United States Department of State, that any such purchases or payments will not directly or indirectly contravene Executive Order 13,661.

The scope of this preliminary injunction does not extend to any purchase orders that have been placed or moneys paid to NPO Energomash prior to the date of this Order.

The ruling cited Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Rogozin, one of the individuals sanctioned by Obama's executive order, as the reason for the finding. NPO Energomash is owned by the Russian government, and Russia's space industry is under his purview.

United Launch Alliance uses RD-180 engines on its Atlas V launch vehicles. During a March 5 Senate Appropriations Committee hearing, ULA CEO Michael Gass stated the company has a two-year supply of RD-180 engines with more on order.

Rogozin got into a war of words April 29 when he said on Twitter that the United States could use a trampoline to deliver its astronauts to the International Space Station. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk responded by announcing he would reveal the company's crewed version of Dragon on May 29, “no trampoline needed.”

Media reports:

NBC News “SpaceX Wins Court Injunction to Block Russian Rocket Engine Purchases”

Washington Post “Elon Musk’s SpaceX Granted Injunction in Rocket Launch Suit Against Lockheed-Boeing”

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