The new filings are the first to disclose what SpaceX is protesting: Elon Musk’s company had sought to keep specific details about its protest secret when it filed the lawsuit last week.
A redacted version of SpaceX’s complaint was also published Wednesday. And the company confirmed in a statement that it “respectfully disagrees with the Air Force’s LSA award decision,” adding that SpaceX is “formally challenging” the awards “to ensure a level playing field for competition.”
The Air Force developed the LSA to help awardees develop massive new rockets that could one day be capable of launching national security payloads for the military. ULA was promised up to $967 million for its forthcoming Vulcan Centaur rocket. Northrop Grumman, which is building a launch vehicle called OmegA, will receive up to $792 million. And Blue Origin will get $500 million for its New Glenn rocket.
The awards, however, do not guarantee that the new rockets will one day win military launch contracts, which are extremely lucrative and coveted in the space industry.
But SpaceX, like the other companies, is also developing a new launch vehicle: It’s called Starship and Super Heavy, a rocket and spaceship system that Musk has described as the technology that will allow humans to colonize Mars. Theoretically, the rocket could be used to help launch heavy military payloads into orbit as well.
The redacted SpaceX complaint posted Wednesday states that the company’s proposal asked for money to support all three of it’s rockets — the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy, which are already operational, and Starship.
But officials determined that including Starship would “render the entire SpaceX portfolio the ‘highest risk'” of all the options. SpaceX called that claim “unreasonable,” according to the complaint.
“The Agency wrongly awarded LSAs to a portfolio of three unproven rockets based on unstated metrics, unequal treatment under the procurement criteria, and opaque industrial planning,” SpaceX alleged.