After mediation, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) has officially withdrawn its legal action against the US Air Force after being offered the chance to bid on more military launches. SpaceX had originally filed a law suit in April 2014 over the launch of military satellites after the US Air Force ordered 36 core launch vehicles from the Boeing/Lockheed Martin consortium ULA (United Launch Alliance) with only a small portion of US Air Force launches being put up for competitive bids. Elon Musk of SpaceX argued that SpaceX was offering to launch certain satellites e.g. GPS spacecraft, for considerably less that ULA could achieve and thus should have been at least considered.
The US Air Force countered that SpaceX’s Falcon 9 had not yet achieved the necessary certification by US military authorities to carry military payloads key to the national defence. After a bitter war of words, there was a subsequent agreement made between the two parties. While the exact detail remains undisclosed, it was reportedly decided that the US Air Force would accelerate the certification process and allow SpaceX to bid on more launches while maintaining its agreed contracted number of launches with ULA. With three more launches awarded to ULA in January 2014 (worth US$383 million), the current USAF/ULA contract is now worth US$4.08 billion.
Comment by David Todd: It is a fair way out. One thing though. The ability to bid for SpaceX to bid more military launches might be moot. With its already bulging launch order book and hence very full launch schedule, it might be very difficult for SpaceX to squeeze any more launches in.