PayPal founder Elon Musk files lawsuit contesting the award of multi-billion-dollar rocket launch contract to rival

Mr Musk claims the contract was not subject to a competitive bidding process - and that he could save US taxpayers $1bn

He has been touted for years as a man who will change the world – a billionaire who made his name as co-founder of PayPal and who runs Tesla Motors, the planet's most famous electric car firm. But now the world is not enough for Elon Musk as he claims his share of Outer Space.

By tomorrow, Mr Musk's other major venture, SpaceX, the California-based rocket company that he created in 2002, will file a lawsuit at the US Court of Federal Claims in Washington contesting the award, to a sole bidder, of a five-year multi-billion-dollar Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) contract to launch 36 rockets carrying satellites and other payloads.

The implications of the lawsuit are huge for Mr Musk, who claims the contract was not subject to a competitive bidding process. The Pentagon estimates that it will spend about $70bn on the space launches by 2030.

The contract, tendered by the US Air Force – which has the potential to be SpaceX's biggest customer – was awarded to United Launch Alliance (ULA), a joint venture of the engineering behemoths Lockheed Martin and Boeing, in December.

SpaceX started by issuing a mysterious announcement on Friday heralding a surprise press conference later that day in Washington DC. No further details were then given.

Mr Musk then announced the news of the lawsuit, called for the contract to be cancelled and for a new bidding process, and claimed he could save US taxpayers $1bn.

"We're just saying these launches should be competed. If we compete and lose, that's fine. But why would they not even compete it? That doesn't make sense," Mr Musk said.

He highlighted a $1.6bn contract that SpaceX holds with Nasa to run resupply missions to the International Space Station (ISS). "It just seems odd that if your vehicle is good enough for Nasa... there is no reasonable basis for it not being capable of launching something quite simple like a GPS satellite," Mr Musk added.

SpaceX's rockets are not currently certified to work with the US Air Force, but Mr Musk stated that it was currently running through the "paperwork exercise" of rectifying that.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: HR Manager - West London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - West London - £...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment & HR Administrator

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Guru Careers: HR Manager / HR Business Partner

£55 - 65k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: A HR Manager / HR Business Partner i...

Recruitment Genius: Senior HR Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Company's vision is to be t...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test