On 7 May 2014, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims removed its preliminary injunction preventing United Launch Alliance’s (ULA’s) purchase of the RD-180 rocket engines from RD AMROSS and NPO Energomash. The RD-180 is the first stage engine of ULA’s Atlas V rocket. The original injunction which was set on 30 April was overturned when the letters submitted by U.S. Departments of State, Treasury and Commerce explicitly stated that NPO Energomash is not subject to any of the current sanctions and that ULA’s continued purchase of the RD-180 does not directly or indirectly contravene the Ukraine sanctions.
The injunction was set up as the result over claims made during a lawsuit by SpaceX against a block buy deal that the US Air Force has done with ULA, that the Deputy Prime Minsiter of Russia, Dmitry Rogozin, was in control of NPO Energomash and would be a beneficiary of engine sales. Current US Sanctions in response to the Russian annexation of Crimea are against individuals in the Russian government include Rogozin. The ending of ban on new RD-180 engines was made after no substantive financially beneficial connection between Rogozin and NPO Energomash could be found.
“Sadly, SpaceX’s frivolous lawsuit caused unnecessary distraction of the executive and judicial branch and increased tensions with Russia during a sensitive national security crisis.” noted ULA in a statement adding:
“SpaceX’s actions are self-serving, irresponsible and have threatened the U.S.’s involvement with the International Space Station and other companies and projects working with Russian State entities.”